By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
Some might say America is flag crazy.
The Stars and Stripes appears on everything from birthday cakes to underwear to beach towels to mailboxes to vehicles – not all of it in accord with proper flag etiquette.
Whether being saluted at a baseball game or in a classroom on the first day of school, perhaps Old Glory is so dear to us because it unites even the most diverse of Americans, a common identity, a common pride.
Today is Flag Day – which is the annual salute to that unifying symbol.
The basic pattern of the American flag as we know it today has existed since the mid-1700s, only changing to add more stars with the admittance of each new state.
Along with it, a system of etiquette evolved to handle the flag appropriately, known commonly as “Flag Code.”
Eagle Scout Dane Christensen, William Morgan of Mississippi State University’s ROTC program, both of Amory, and Vice Commander of the American Legion’s District 1 Thurman Parrish of New Albany offered a few things to consider when handling the colors.
The flag should be lighted at all times, whether by sun or spotlight. At night, it should be taken down and raised the next morning, so it will not be faded or frayed by the elements. This was especially crucial in the days of cotton flags.
When taken down, it should be folded twice vertically, then, from the stripes end, in a triangle shape.
When finished, only the “blue field” should be showing, totaling 13 folds in all.
“Having a flag shows patriotism,” Christensen said. “But going through the effort to care for it shows an even deeper appreciation for what it means.”
The flag should be hung on the right side of a house, with the stars always on the same side as your heart. It should always be held above all other flags (except in Texas, where the state flag is flown above the American flag). In a parade, the American flag should lead all other flags.
Never should the flag be used for any advertising purposes, or printed on anything intended to be discarded after temporary use, such as wrapping paper or paper napkins. In general, it should be displayed with respect.
“Whenever I see someone with a shirt made like an American flag I want to say ‘please don’t wear my flag like that,’” Parrish said.
The flag should be mended and cleaned when necessary.
When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it must be “retired,” with a meaningful ceremony. The blue field should be cut from the stripes and both should be burned.
“I was raised in a patriotic home,” Morgan said. “But it’s become more meaningful in the ROTC. You just realize the training you go through everyday is representative of that flag.”