Respect flag as symbol of freedom

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2022

By Tom Mastaglio

Guest columnist

Of the four patriotic spring and summer holidays, Flag Day is the least acknowledged and often poorly understood; the others are Veterans Day, Memorial Day and July Fourth.

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Should it be? June 14 is officially Flag Day. It is not a national holiday in the sense of government offices and businesses closing, nor does it mark a three-day weekend, so often it goes unnoticed by many citizens. Nevertheless, it provides us an opportunity to reflect on this grand symbol of our republic and show our respect.

The date was chosen because it was June 14 in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the design of our flag. First, the design was proposed as composed of 13 red and white alternating stripes and a Union Jack in the corner; that corner design was widely contested, of course, and replaced with a field of blue containing one star for each state in the Union – 13 then and 50 today.

It was not until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson designated June 14 as Flag Day – a day on which to honor our national flag and reflect on the foundations of the nation’s liberties. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals; it is universally recognized as a symbol of such individual liberties.

Some essential facts about flag and flag etiquette that we all should know and follow:  Do not let the flag touch the ground. A flag displayed out of doors should be illuminated by sunlight or artificial light at night if it is not taken in. There is a proper way to fold a flag; if you need to know, ask a Boy Scout.

The flag should not be used as apparel, bedding or drapery, according to the official flag code, although today using its design on clothing or in other places appears to be acceptable. Unserviceable flags – ripped, torn, damaged or soiled – should no longer be displayed but properly disposed of. The best way to ensure proper disposal is by turning your flag in to a civic or community organization that will retire your flag properly.

In Smithfield, American Legion Post 49 will conduct a formal ceremony to do that on June 18 at 1 p.m. at the Post, 818 S. Church St. The public is invited to bring flags to the post any time before the ceremony and to attend our ceremony. It is particularly appropriate for youth to experience this respectful and solemn event.  Refreshments will be served following the ceremony.

The Stars and Stripes is mistreated by those who want to express a political position that opposes government action (or inaction) and by our foreign opponents. This is improper. In fact, the flag represents the very freedoms that allow such protestations. If you see this type of activity politely remind the desecrators that they are disrespecting the very symbol of our country that represents their freedom to publicly disagree and protest. Freedom should be cherished, our nation’s principles that provide it honored and our national symbol, the Stars and Stripes, respected as a representing those liberties.

So, on June 14 show the colors by your home or on your vehicle and take time to reflect on this grand symbol of our freedom and democracy. Honor the flag and honor your country.

 

Tom Mastaglio is the media and publicity coordinator for American Legion Post 49 in Smithfield. His email address is tom.mastaglio@outlook.com.