21 Bum Salute

The “annual” flags have been rolled up in the wake of another Fourth of July. Like Christmas trees, they come out once a year. As for myself, I prefer to fly the flag on every holiday calling for it that I can. That’s right, I’m a proud American and I think most of us would answer to that charge. Presenting the Stars and Stripes is one very visible way to demonstrate respect for our country.

Everyone knows there are rules of flag etiquette. I am still surprised by those who conflate a seemingly overweening need to proclaim their patriotism with apathy or ignorance.

To wit:

A large print ad in the newspaper features a family gathering. Picnic table loaded with food and a flag hanging vertically on the house in the background. How more American can this get: family, home, country, sustenance? This one got my dander up enough for a letter: the union was on the right. When displaying the flag vertically, etiquette requires the union always to be on the left. A professionally and painstakingly staged ad photo and they missed this?

A couple of super-patriotic homeowners liked to display their flags all the time. As in after dark. Sun up to sun down unless directly lit is the rule. I have no idea as to motivation. But I have noticed a common intent to justify these sorts of etiquette breaches with breezy references to friends having served or of being of the correct political mindset. Only in America can you consider yourself a staunch patriot while dissing the national symbol.

Any car dealership which flies umpteen flags like they were streamers or balloons. What’s the point here? We’re so patriotic that we have more flags that particles in the universe? More flags does not equal more respect. Rather, to me, it cheapens the symbol.

I didn’t make these rules up. And I don’t get to make up my own rules here. Just like I don’t get to have a flag with 51 stars (c’mon Puerto Rico). There’s a certain standardization required in what constitutes respect. That way we all know it and we know what it isn’t.

God Bless America.