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Opinion: United States flag is deserving of respect

Whether the American flag is snapping in the wind at the top of a tall flag pole or clutched in a child’s hand as it’s waved at a parade, the sight of the three-colored cloth invokes a sense of pride for young and old.

Americans celebrate Flag Day on June 14, a day that was first proclaimed by President Wilson in 1916 to honor the nation’s symbol, and a day President Truman made official with legislation signed in 1949.

The American flag, though, dates back more than 200 years, when the Second Continental Congress approved the first flag June 14, 1777. Since then, the American flag, which also has come to be known as the “Stars and Stripes” and “Old Glory,” has served as a symbol of freedom, bravery and justice.

How we treat this historic American symbol is important for young and old to know, whether it’s reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school, singing the National Anthem at a sports event, watching soldiers carry it in a parade, or displaying it outside our front door.

Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. This section of law, generally referred to as the Flag Code, unifies the ways in which we show respect to the flag, including:

  • When the flag passes in a procession, all should face the flag and salute. To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart, and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
  • When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute.
  • The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily, it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
  • The flag is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

These are a few of a long, detailed list of instructions. This Flag Day, take time to learn more about flag etiquette, how the flag should be used and treated. In addition, teach children and grandchildren to share the same respect for this enduring American symbol that is an emblem of the land we love —the home of the free and the brave. — St. Cloud Times