Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

May 16, 2013

Flag etiquette pointers

Veteran offers timely tips for upcoming patriotic holidays

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Saturday is Armed Forces Day, when we honor people who are active and reserve members of the military; May 27 is Memorial Day, when we honor those who have died serving our country; and June 14 is Flag Day, three big opportunities to fly the flag right.

For Roger Layton, first vice commander of the American Legion, Post 22, also known as the Johnson-Wiggins Post, seeing people fly the flag disrespectfully is his pet peeve.

The rules of displaying flags can get a little complex, like any etiquette, but they’re designed to show respect for other people’s feelings. For example, the flag should never be used as an article of clothing, preventing that awkward moment when a veteran’s widow has to tell someone not to sit on the flag.

Other rules include making sure the flag is under some kind of light if it’s left outdoors overnight, and that it’s in good condition.

“Flags should be in serviceable condition,” Layton said. “There’s a point at which it gets ratty and people still display them when they shouldn’t. You can give unserviceable flags to any veterans organization like the American Legion or VFW, and they will properly destroy it.”

Used flags can also be dropped off at Corley’s Funeral Home, which will either pass them onto one of the veterans organization, or will use them in the cremation of veterans, explained Corley’s owner Ron Smith.

“We have a drop-off place for used flags. When we have a flag and a veteran is going to be cremated, we place the flag on his cremation container,” Smith said. “It’s to help honor the veteran, and it retires the flag at the same time.”

Some flag etiquette can also be unique to a specific day, for example, on Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to full staff, Layton said.

The U.S. flag should be to the right of any other flags on display with it, and should be raised first and lowered last. There’s a myth that the Texas flag is the only flag that is allowed to be displayed at the same height as the U.S. flag, with the logic that Texas was a republic before joining the union.

Actually, the federal flag code, which isn’t an enforceable law but is merely a series of guidelines, allows any state flag to be flown at the same height as the U.S. flag, so long as the national flag is on the right. If it’s being flown with a bunch of other states’ flags, then the U.S. flag is supposed to be in the center and at the highest point.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com