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Examiner
  • Flag Day is Friday

  • It’s Flag Day. Fly it proudly, and know the rules.

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  • It’s Flag Day. Fly it proudly, and know the rules.
    “I think for the most part, people have a good working knowledge of the Flag Code,” said Mike Buss, deputy director of the American Legion, headquartered in Indianapolis.
    The Flag Code, which Congress has written into federal law, includes the well-known rules, which are rooted in respect for the flag. Don’t let it touch the ground or floor. Don’t fly it during inclement weather unless it’s an all-weather flag. Fly it from sunrise to sunset, or “when a patriotic effect is desired,” it may be flown around the clock “if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”
    But there are a couple of hangups. One is that presidents and governors are the ones with the authority to order flags to half-staff, even though others sometimes take that upon themselves, raising eyebrows.
    “From time to time, we get a question from one of our members,” Buss said.
    For example, Missouri Gov. Nixon has been ordering flags to half-staff statewide for a day when someone in the armed services dies in Afghanistan or Iraq as well as ordering flags to half-staff in that person’s home county for a week. Buss said that’s fairly typical. Governors and presidents have a lot of latitude, he said. Presidents generally order flags to half-staff at the death of high-ranking officials, but President Obama, for example, has done so after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and after the bombings in Boston.
    The Flag Code also states that when the flag is flown at half-staff, it is to be hoisted to the top “for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position.” It should be raised to the peak and then lowered at the end of the day. Whenever the flag is flown, it should be raised “briskly” and lowered slowly.
    One other suggestion from the American Legion: Take a good look at your flag to see if it’s torn or tattered.
    “If it is, it’s time to take the flag down and buy a new one,” Buss said.
    The old flag should be retired respectfully, and the Flag Code says burning is preferred. Scouts and other groups hold those ceremonies regularly.
    The idea of Flag Day has been around since the late 19th century, and President Wilson proclaimed Flag Day celebrations in 1916. The idea spread, and June 14 has been the official date since a 1949 law signed by President Truman.
    The full Flag Code is readily available online, and in 2008 the Congressional Research Service published a quick guide, “The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions,” which stated that the code itself “does not purport to cover all possible situations.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The report goes on: “The Flag Code itself, however, suggests a general rule by which practices involving the flag may be fairly tested: ‘No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America.’ Therefore, actions not specifically included in the Code may be deemed acceptable as long as proper respect is shown.” It also says the president has the power to alter the rules, but ultimately no federal agency has the power to make rulings on flag use that are legally binding on citizens.
     
     
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