By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – When Stephen Thompson hangs the American flag on business storefronts in Tupelo, he does it with a sense of pride because it is his way to pay tribute to those who have fought for his freedom.
“I was right here,” Thompson said, standing in front of H&R Block on South Gloster Street, “putting flags out before businesses closed one day and a vet came up and said, ‘I just want to shake your hand because you’re putting up the flag.’”
Thompson was taken aback: “He was moved by me, but I was moved by his service.”
Today’s Flag Day represents the day in 1777 when the Second Continental Congress adopted the American flag, albeit with far fewer stars.
Tupelo will have a large number of flags hung in front of businesses today, many hung by Thompson and other members of the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club.
“When you have a lot of flags on Main Street or the side streets, it adds something to the town,” he said. “It says we care about America. We’re Mississippi but we care about America.”
Margaret DeMoville, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said many people don’t realize the responsibility that comes with owning and displaying a flag.
“It’s so important to remember it’s more than a piece of material,” DeMoville said. “It’s a symbol of our freedom.”
The United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1 outlines in detail how a flag should be cared for and displayed.
The chapter of U.S. Code outlining flag care points out the flag should not be worn as clothing, used in advertising or flown at night unless properly lit. There is no penalty for violating these guidelines because the flag is a symbol of the First Amendment freedoms that allow Americans to break those rules.
DeMoville said Americans should still do their best to respect the rules. “When we think about what our country went through to get this freedom, it is so precious to us that we should never take it for granted,” she said.
Mississippians can order a flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol from their U.S. congressman or senator’s website.
“The American flag is a powerful reminder of our nation’s principles and history,” said Sen. Roger Wicker. “It remains a great symbol of our country.”
Flag Day Facts
• The flag should only be displayed during daylight, unless properly illuminated.
• It should be displayed near the main building of every public institution, polling places on election day and every schoolhouse.
• It should not be displayed on a parade float except from a staff.
• The flag should not be draped over a vehicle or train or boat.
• No flag shall be placed above it and the flag should always be in the center and highest point when displayed in a group of flags unless in a group of flags from other nations.
• The flag shall not be dipped to any person or thing.
• The flag shall not be displayed upside down except as a signal of dire distress.
• The flag should never touch anything beneath it – (ground, floor, water, etc.).
• The flag should never be worn or used a apparel, bedding or drapery.
• No marking should ever be placed on a flag.
• The flag shall never be used as advertising.
• The flag shall never be impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discarded.
• No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.
• A flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations.
• When in poor condition and no longer a fitting emblem for display, a flag may be destroyed with dignity, preferably by burning.
Source: U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1