When Scott and I bought the House On a Hill, the Old Man give us a house flag as a housewarming gift when we were moving out. It was sweet and really touched me, and it also saved me having to buy a flag. Scott and I always planned to have a flag to fly on flag display days and adding the flag bracket near the front door was one of the first things we did when we got the keys. Neither of us is given to displays of jingoism and I think I can speak for both of us when I say we find it distasteful, but we do feel a measure of patriotic pride in the principles of this country and a patriotic hope for its potential. As part of that, we like to fly a flag other than our freak flag now and then.
Last night before bed, I reminded Scott to put the flag up outside the house today for Veterans Day. As he left for work this morning, that’s what he did: raised an American flag in the light of the sun. Later today, as the sun begins to set, I’ll either turn on the outside light to illuminate the flag or I’ll bring it inside. If I decide to illuminate it, later tonight when we turn the light off, the flag will come inside. Why? Because that’s proper flag etiquette.
People may not realize it, but there’s a code that governs the proper display of the flag of the United States of America. This is federal law, and while there’s no actual penalty for improper use or display of the flag, failure to follow the flag code shows a lack of respect. This is ironic because so many of the rah rah USA USA USA crowd are disrespecting the flag by not following the flag code. Every day I see my neighbors’ flags flown day and night through all kinds of weather, never lit up in the dark, and allowed to turn to tatters. You see this everywhere: people thinking they’re showing their great patriotism when in fact they’re disrespecting the flag.
Flags should technically only be flown from sunrise to sunset, though you can do it at night if the flag is lit. If it’s flown in bad weather, it should be an all-weather flag that won’t be abused by the elements.
Last week, I saw a DIY project that involved cutting up a flag – a real flag, not flag-printed fabric – and using it to upholster a footstool. A footstool! So after cutting it up, that flag was used to prop up someone’s feet. The DIYer included a tutorial for how to do the project, and her final step read: 8. USA USA USA!!!!!
I find that appalling. Unless you’re willfully trying to show disrespect, you never cut up or put your feet on a US flag. In fact, it shouldn’t be used for decorative furnishings at all. Not as curtains, not as a bedspread, etc.
If you’re going to show your patriotism through the use of an American flag, please do yourself and all of us a favor and read the flag code. Learn the proper, and improper, way to display a flag and show it respect.