Opinion

If you’re going to wave the flag, do it right

Is it too much to ask that we display a flag properly?” asked Jack Grable, a member of the Port Orchard chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The particular offense that annoyed Grable, who stopped by by the Independent office earlier this week, was a flag displayed in front of a downtown Port Orchard business. Having been exposed for too long to the wind and salt of the waterfront, the flag was now tattered and torn.

Repeated calls to the building’s owner by Grable and other representatives from the local VFW post were ignored.

“It’s great that people want to display the flag,” Grable said. “But if you’re going to do it, it has to be done right.”

Grable makes an excellent point — one that couldn’t be more timely as American servicemen and women are dying on foreign soil once again in the cause of freedom.

We commend any business owner or resident who chooses to demonstrate his or her support for the troops, but it’s not a practice we should take lightly. For the record, here are a few pointers on proper flag etiquette from the VFW’s website:

“The federal flag code says the universal custom is to display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open, but when a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

“Also, the U.S. flag should not be displayed when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.”

Officially, here’s how it should be done.

— On same staff: U.S. flag at peak, above any other flag except a flag of another nation.

— Grouped: U.S. flag goes to its own right. Flags of other nations are flown at same height.

— Marching: U.S. flag to marchers right (observer’s left).

— On speaker’s platform: When displayed with a speaker’s platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff it is on the speaker’s right.

— Decoration: Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.

— Salute. Head bare (women and military leave hats on), right hand over heart, standing at attention.

— Over a street: Union (stars) face north or east depending on the direction of the street.

— Half-staff: On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.

— Do not let the flag touch the ground.

— Do not fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency.

— Do not carry the flag flat, or carry things in it.

— Do not use the flag as clothing.

— Do not store the flag where it can get dirty.

— Do not use it as a cover.

— Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free.

— Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.

In short, show respect for the flag. In challenging times such as these, it is the most visible and important symbol of who we are and what this country stands for.

And one more thing. If your flag is tattered or torn but you can’t afford to replace it, the VFW will gladly provide you with a new one. Contact Grable at 876-8932.

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