Respecting our flag
Our publication day this week coincides with Flag Day, and while most communities do very little to mark its observance, it is a day of parades and special celebrations in some towns, such as nearby Quincy, Massachusetts. The Stars and Stripes has been our nation’s symbol since 1777 when it was designed by Francis Hopkinson, although seamstress Betsy Ross is the name we usually associate with the first flag. The thirteen stripes were chosen as a symbol of the original 13 states, and the stars as representative of the individual states. The flag has been redesigned a number of times as new states joined the union, with the latest and current stars configuration the idea of a 17-year-old high school student in 1960 after Hawaii became the 50th state.
While there are some attractive flags elsewhere in the world, we think it’s really special that emphasis was placed on acknowledging that while we may be one country, it takes 50 separate states to make up the whole. Some may not consider this a big deal at all, but to us it is significant, because it acknowledges that we’re all important contributors to what makes us united. We appreciate the wisdom and foresight of its original designer.
The flag is often disrespected, especially these days when it’s somehow considered cool and trendy to protest by failing to stand for the national anthem and salute the flag. Individuals most apt to appreciate all that it stands for are those who previously lived in a war-torn country where freedom didn’t exist. We respect everyone’s right to work for changes but the way to effect change isn’t by disrespecting our flag and all the good that it stands for.
We’re all a bit guilty of ignoring some of the rules of flag etiquette. We don’t make sure the flag is lit if it’s flown over night, we don’t take it down during inclement weather, as we “wear’’its symbol on T-shirts, costumes, hats and the like. We often don’t follow accepted procedures for disposing of worn-out flags. There are lots of other rules we don’t follow, either, but to us the most serious infraction is failing to respect the flag at public functions, sports events and other places where it is downright embarrassing to see it humiliated.
We don’t have to celebrate Flag Day every June, but let’s make sure we continue to respect it everywhere it flies.