Stars and Stripes etiquette
The standards for handling and displaying the Stars and Stripes are set forth by the United States Code, written into law by Congress in 1942 (Title 36, Chapter 10, Patriotic Customs).
This federal code does not impose penalties for improper handling or misuse of the flag, but states do have laws regarding this, and most of our citizens expect the flag to be treated with respect.
Flying the American flag upside down is traditionally considered a sign of distress, as it is with all national flags. The signal is one that was used primarily in past centuries (pre-1900s), on the high seas by military and merchant marine vessels.
While the U.S. Flag Code does permit flying the flag with the union down, it specifies only as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. In recent times some have interpreted this in a much broader manner and have come to use it as a political statement, instead of a true S.O.S., which it was originally intended.
Which begs the question: Was the main Macon post office employee responsible for raising the flag making a statement last week when he raised Old Glory upside down? Am I the only one to have noticed and reported this to less-than-concerned staff?
As a naturalized citizen, our flag is extremely important to me, as it should be to all. I love and respect it. I have seen it fly over the graves of our WWII veterans at Omaha Beach (9,387 graves and the memorial listing 1,557 the names of missing whose remains were never recovered) and the Cambridge American Cemetery in England (3,812 graves and the memorial listing the names of 5,127 missing whose remains were never recovered) to name but two of those I visited and took our children to visit. And yes, we all saw it fly over the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center.
For more than 200 years, our countrys military members have bled and died for the flag and all it characterizes and represents. They have faithfully practiced the flag code and treated the flag with the highest honor, love and respect. Surely we can do no less than meet the standard they have set and continue to set. I encourage all to inspect the flag flying on your property or business. Does it meet the standard?
-- Christiane Belisle
Remind us, dear Lord, that our service to you is a way to honor you with our bodies. You have done so much for us that it is overwhelming at times. Allow us to use our gifts to bring greater glory to your name so others will be drawn closer to you. We are so blessed. Glory to the one and only living God. In Jesus name. Amen.
-- Johnnie Mae Holland
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