I found so much useful information about flag etiquette last week, that I thought I would continue sharing. There are so many interesting and seldom known codes of conduct to ensure the flag is flown correctly and honorably, so I’ll try to put in as many as I can.

As we watched one of the political conventions, my husband noticed the inattention of the delegates as the U.S. flag was being brought in to post the colors. We think they didn’t even know that the appropriate conduct was to stop, have men remove their hats, turn toward the flag, and immediately place their right hand over their heart (exception: military in uniform). These were political delegates and they didn’t even give proper respect to the flag!

Other regulations and codes of conduct include: the flag should never be worn as apparel, or used as bedding or drapes; the flag should never be used in advertising; a tattered or damaged flag should be placed in a triangle fold and disposed of properly by burning (American Legion posts, Boy Scout troops, and local governments may be able to help the public to dispose of damaged flags); no other flag should be higher than the U.S. flag or placed to its right; the flag should not be flown on bad weather days unless it is made of all-weather material; the blue background containing the stars, called “the union” should always be displayed at the top and to the flag’s right, or inside, as it either hangs in a window or is mounted on a wall; over a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder, and never lowered to or touch the ground; nothing should ever be attached to, drawn on, sewn on or written on a U.S. flag; the flag is never to be used as clothing, a costume or an athletic uniform; both uniformed and veterans not in uniform may deliver a military salute, beginning on the first note of the national anthem and ending after the last note.

There are many more facts, but I wanted a chance to touch on something that has bothered me for a while. Living in a military community, we see flags displayed all over town. It is wonderful to see them scattered on flag poles, beautifully blowing in the breeze. But some area businesses use them (many, so, so many U.S. flags) almost exclusively as their decor. I’m sure there are varying reasons, whether it is a means of showing patriotism, or it appeals to or attracts military members to patronize that business.

But to me, patriotism isn’t about the number of flags you fly but the respect and honor given to the symbol. These flags, strapped to poles, cannot be lowered to half-staff when required, they are not raised each morning and lowered each evening in honor and respect; they simply look like decorations. Patriotism is the love that we feel in our hearts for our country. Patriotism is respecting and honoring its symbols. Patriotism is recognizing and thanking our veterans, and doing good and fair business with them. With all due respect, patriotism is not how many flags we fly, properly or improperly.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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