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Flag Day is Old Glory's time to shine
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Proper flag care

The American flag is displayed everywhere, but is it being used properly? Out of respect for the U.S. flag, you should never:

  • Display it at a lower height than any state or other national flag. In peacetime, flags of other nations should be displayed at the same height and size as the American flag.
  • Display it at night, unless it is illuminated.
  • Display it during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag.
  • Dip it for any person or thing, though state and other flags may be dipped as a mark of honor.
  • Display it with the union (blue field with stars) down, except as a distress signal.
  • Let the flag touch anything beneath it — ground, floor, water, merchandise.
  • Carry it horizontally, but always aloft.
  • Fasten or display it in a way that will permit it to be damaged or soiled.
  • Place anything on the flag, including letters, insignia or designs of any kind.
  • Use it for holding anything.
  • Use it as apparel, bedding or drapery. It should not be used on a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.
  • Use the flag for advertising or promotion purposes or print it on paper napkins, boxes or anything else intended for temporary use and discarded.

Source: Veterans of Foreign Wars Web site

Today is Flag Day, a holiday that doesn’t exactly have people lining up for parades and firing up the grill like other summer holidays, but it celebrates one of our oldest national symbols.

More than 200 years ago today — 232 to be exact — the Continental Congress adopted the American flag in a resolution that read: "Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

We’ve added 37 more stars since the original, but the basic design is the same.

Though the day had been celebrated in communities across the country since about 1894, Flag Day didn’t become a national holiday until President Harry S. Truman signed legislation in 1949.

But Truman didn’t come up with the idea. That credit goes to a Waubeka, Wis., man, Bernard J. Cigrand, according to the Wisconsin-based National Flag Day Foundation. The small community where Cigrand was born holds large Flag Day celebrations each year, including a parade and family day events. The day ends with fireworks and the displaying of a 60-foot by 40-foot flag, according to the organization’s Web site, www.nationalflagday.com.

For years, Cigrand championed the notion of a day to recognize the Stars and Stripes, including distributing a pamphlet on regulations regarding proper use of the flag.

Educating the public on regulations regarding the American flag also is important to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A portion of the organization’s Web site, www.vfw.org, is dedicated to flag etiquette, especially proper disposal of worn flags.

According to the VFW, the correct way to dispose of a worn American flag is to fold it in the customary manner and burn it while saluting, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or having a brief period of silent reflection. After the flag is completely burned, the ashes should be buried.

VFW posts, including Post 8452 in Gainesville, will take old flags and dispose of them properly, according to post quartermaster Tim Hopton.

Though the post has held a retirement ceremony on previous Flag Days, Hopton said the post would not do so this year because they haven’t received any worn flags recently. Worn flags can be dropped off at the post at 1955 Delta Drive for proper disposal, Hopton said.

The Federal Flag Code, Public Law 93-344, also outlines proper ways to display and show respect to the flag, including when and how it should be displayed.

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