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The US Flag: Etiquette and Display, Part 2

The US Flag: Etiquette and Display, Part 2 By Jim Massey, with excerpts from The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions from the Congressional Research Service The symbolism attached to our flag extends beyond that of simply identifying a territory or possession of the United States. We also use the flag as a means of paying respect to individuals who have formally served this nation in varying capacities, including, but not limited to, fallen members of the US Armed Forces. In accordance with the Federal Flag Code (4 U.S.C. §§ 4-10 and 36 U.S.C. § 301), the US flag should be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, “by order of the President, … upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a state, territory, or possession,” as well as members of the US Armed Forces. State Governors have similar authority to order both state and US flags to be flown at half-staff. “The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice-President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” The US Code provides additional details and lengths of time for other current and former national and state officials. Flags used to cover caskets should be placed so the blue field and stars are at the head and over the left shoulder of the individual being buried. Perhaps the greatest controversy revolves around what is considered disrespect of our flag. Although what is specified under 4 USC § 8 details what legally constitutes disrespect, it seems that more modern customs and traditions circumvent the law. What is disrespectful, by law: use as an article of clothing or costume, allowing it to touch the ground/floor, displaying it in such a way that it may become soiled or otherwise unserviceable, or printing/using for any kind of advertising purposes or temporary use after which it would be discarded. […]

The US Flag: Etiquette and Display, Part 1

The US Flag: Etiquette and Display, Part 1 By Jim Massey, with excerpts from The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions from the Congressional Research Service Much controversy exists today regarding the proper handling, use, and display of the US flag, in no small part, fueled by what is seen as a disrespectful use of our national ensign. This leads to countless misconceptions regarding what is or is not legal. The next two articles are dedicated to address what our laws actually specify on this issue. In addition to addressing proper conduct during the playing of our national anthem, the Federal Flag Code (4 U.S.C. §§ 4-10 and 36 U.S.C. § 301) provides a uniform set of guidelines for the display and respect shown to our flag. As such, it is important to note that the law is “for the use of such civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments” of the federal government. There are no penalties provided for violations of these provisions, merely leaving them as guidelines to be followed—or completely ignored, solely at the discretion of civilians and civilian groups. With that understanding, certain elements of the US Code have become more tradition than enforced law. The following is paraphrased from Title 4 of the US Code: 1. The flag is flown from sunrise to sunset, but may be flown 24 hours a day if properly illuminated. In inclement weather, unless a special “inclement weather” flag is used, it is not to be flown. 2. The flag should be flown on all national and state holidays, as well as at or near polling places on election days and at all schools during school days. 3. When on display with multiple other flags, the US flag is flown to the right of the others and elevated above them. The exception to this is if flags of multiple nations are flown: in this situation, all national flags are displayed at equal height. 4. The flag should not be draped over the […]

A Brief History of the US Flag

A Brief History of the US Flag By Jim Massey No matter where you may travel in the United States, or for that matter, around the world, flags of one variety or another are a consistent sight. National, state, military service branch, POW/MIA, and organizations of all types, flags are not only a source of identification and pride, but a reminder of history…and for many, a reminder of what that history means in terms of lives impacted by injury and, for others, the ultimate sacrifice: death. Our “Stars and Stripes” is by far the most recognized symbol around the world. Given the prominence of the United States upon the world stage, it is a symbol of freedom, opportunity, pride, and hope for some; envied by others; and yet for others still, a symbol to which various messages of hate and division are attached. Given the overwhelming prominence in the mainstream media to the above-mentioned negative aspects of what the symbol of our nation represents, it is my hope that this article, along with the next three, provides a source of light with which we can take pride—pride in who we are as a nation and what our flag truly represents not only to Americans, but to all people around the world. While a number of flags represented the American Colonies prior to the Revolution, Betsy Ross is historically credited with having sewn the first American flag. This flag consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes, with a circle of 13 stars upon a blue field, and was formally adopted by Congress as the national flag on May 29, 1777. A number of subsequent flags were designed as states joined the Union, with varying positions of stars and stripes, but it was the design of 1818 with which most Americans are familiar: 13 horizontal, alternating red and white stripes, with a blue field in the upper left corner. The only variation since that time has been the addition of one star for each new state. Perhaps the most popular image of our flag is one consisting of only 48 stars. […]

Local veteran services, nonprofits expand to meet growing demand

After serving as a Marine in the Vietnam War, Tomball resident Bill Schaffer has made a career out of helping the growing number of veterans who are in need of specialized health care and employment resources.