Long May It Wave

This Memorial Day weekend, an alert “06880” reader — who asks to be called “a local military vet” — is concerned that too many of us fly the American flag improperly. He writes:

I often see the flag hanging outside of houses in the dark and rain. The flag should traditionally be displayed only from sunrise to sunset. It may be displayed at all times if it is illuminated during darkness.

The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms, unless it is an all-weather flag.

When displayed on a float in a parade, it should be hung from a staff or suspended so it falls free. It should not be draped over a vehicle.

Hang a flag vertically against a wall, with the union at the top and facing the observer’s left. Over a sidewalk, ensure the union is at the top at the side farthest away from the nearest building.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it (ground, floor, water, merchandise). It should not be carried horizontally — always aloft.

It should never be used on a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.

The flag should not be used for advertising or promotion purposes, or printed on napkins, boxes, or anything else intended for temporary use and then discarded.

When the flag passes in parade, Americans should stand at attention facing the flag, and place their right hand over their heart.

On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon.

The Westport veteran adds:

It may seem pedantic to spend time on properly displaying the flag.

But it is not. It is important.

In the time of Trump, with so much of the population in open resistance to our elected leadership, proper respect for the flag is a way to show our commitment to the country, not the president.

Commitment can be given meaning by the individual. It does not require any notions of national defense.

For what it’s worth, everyone who enters the military takes an oath to defend the Constitution — not the president.

(For the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Guidelines for Display of the Flag,” click here.)

15 responses to “Long May It Wave

  1. Diane Cady

    grateful–my neighbor, a veteran, always helped me with which side the stars should go and now I know (again)

  2. To the anonymous writer, a “local military veteran,” many thanks for your sincere words and, most importantly, your service to our country. Wishing you all good things.

  3. Robert Mitchell

    From one vet to another, thank you!

  4. Wendy Crowther

    Thanks to the vet for this info and for his/her service to our country. I have an additional question for him/her. Many of our government officials wear an American flag pin on their lapels/clothing. Based on the above descriptions, this may not be an appropriate use of the symbol. Could you please clarify?

    • Elaine Marino

      According to Section 8 (j) of the United States Flag Code, a lapel flag pin is acceptable if worn on the left lapel near the heart:

      “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”

  5. Peter Barlow

    I like everything this veteran said. I think we overdo the flag – one big flag is very impressive. The flag should not be worn as clothes, should not be attached to a motorcycle going 70 mph, and to stick a flag on every used car in a dealer’s lot is not patriotism.

    • Jack Whittle

      Why should a flag not be flown by a motorcycle ? Or a car, or truck?

      • Wally Woods

        Why not indeed! Also the stars and stripes are printed on t-shirts, used on endless summer togs for kids and grownups, and more. Be happy and enjoy wearing our national colors. Happy Decoration Day to one and all.

      • Peter Barlow

        Because they get torn and shredded. At slow speeds there’s less of a problem.

  6. Nancy Hunter

    Any National flag raised or lowered, or on parade/review — please remove your hats!!

  7. Rod Hurtuk

    It is astonishing that even this post has been politicized, contrary to the sacrifices of this day, and very disappointing to see it.

  8. How has it been “politicized”? These are all honest questions and solid answers.

    • Rod Hurtuk

      It was unfortunate that the snarky Trump comment appeared in your post and diminished the patriotic intent of a column that seemed honoring of our veterans and their sacrifices.

      • That “snarky Trump comment” came from the veteran. He was stating a fact. There is plenty of resistance to the president, and respect for the flag is about just that — the flag, not whoever happens to be president.

  9. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    Thank you to the veteran who so appropriately informed us. It is important to remember and respect the values so many gave their lives to defend. Our loyalty is to those values and not any one individual.