Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

June 12, 2014

Saluting the flag

-- — Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14. Why?

On June 14, 1777, America’s Continental Congress “resolved that the flag of the United State be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Some historians believe that Congressman Francis Hopkinson most likely designed the American flag while Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross stitched the first one together but no one knows for an absolute certainty who designed or made the first American flag.

For more than 20 years, the addition of a stripe was a regular policy. It was a 15-stripe American flag that Francis Scott Key was so happy to see “by the dawn’s early light” during the War of 1812 when he penned the words to “The Star Spangled Banner.” On April 4, 1818, however, the flag was returned to 13 stripes to commemorate the 13 original states, with a star to be added for each new state on the July 4 following the admission of a new state into the union.

Yet, come Saturday, on Flag Day, we should strive to remember the flag’s importance, the idea that people have died for the flag, that the American flag should be treated with respect.

There are numerous accepted rules for displaying the American flag, though many of these details of protocol are unknown or widely ignored by the general public.

When displayed with other flags, the American flag should be prominently placed in the middle. No other flag should be higher than the American flag or above it if they are displayed on the same pole.

A flag should only be displayed upside down in cases of needing help in an emergency or at a time of duress.

The American flag should be lowered at night unless it is properly lighted. The flag should not be flown in the rain unless it is made of weather-resistant material.

The flag should not be flown if it is frayed, torn, worn. Such flags should be discarded in a respectful ceremony.

President Calvin Coolidge said of the flag: “When we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights, we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done. A yearly contemplation of our flag strengthens and purifies the national conscience.”

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