Sunday, July 2, 2017

Old Glory: Respecting a symbol of nation's history

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

This Fourth of July holiday, many Americans will show their patriotic spirit by flying the Stars and Stripes - and they're being asked to keep flag etiquette in mind.

Gerald White, director of Americanism and Youth Activities of the American Legion Department of Ohio explains the American flag should be respected because it represents freedom, democracy and the values of a nation that many have fought to defend.

"Each one of those stars represents one of the states as it came into the union," he says. "The flag is representing our entire history, and the men and women who have made a significant and often ultimate sacrifice, to let that flag fly freely in the United States."

According to the United States Flag Code, the American flag should always be the highest in a series of flag poles and never be displayed if tattered. It should never touch the ground and always be carried "aloft and free." It also should be illuminated if flown at night, and destroyed in a dignified manner when it's no longer in fit condition.

Violating the U.S. Flag Code isn't against the law, and White notes flag burning is protected under the First Amendment.

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled back in 1989 that burning a flag represents free speech, which is an issue that the veterans' organizations and a lot of similar organizations have had an opposing viewpoint on," he adds.

In June, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, announced legislation to change the U.S. Constitution to give Congress the authority to prohibit "physical desecration" of the American flag. Similar amendments have been attempted in the past, but opponents say acts of desecration are part of Americans' right to expression and rarely occur.

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