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Fly the U.S. flag proudly and correctly

Robert Houk • Nov 24, 2018 at 11:15 PM

Did you raise your flag for Thanksgiving? How about Veterans Day?

Both are federal holidays, and appropriate dates to fly Old Glory.

As Americans we each have the right to decide how and when we display our patriotism, but if you are going to fly the U.S. flag, you should follow proper etiquette in doing so.

The flag should be revered for the principles of democracy and justice that it embodies, not simply as a piece of cloth. And if you are going to hoist it, please follow the rules.

Maybe a good Christmas present for Americans this year would be a copy of the U.S. Flag Code. It’s the official guide for how, when and where to properly display the flag.

That includes folks who strap the U.S. flag to their cars. The flag code states the flag “should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle or of a train or a boat.

When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.”

Some other tips from the U.S. Flag Code include:

• When displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from a window sill, balcony or front of a building, the union of the flag should be seen at the peak of the staff.

• The American flag must be flown above all other flags on the same pole.

• The flag should only be flown in a respectable condition. Torn or tattered flags should not be displayed.

• Only all-weather flags should be flown during inclement weather.

• A flag may only be displayed for 24 hours if it is properly illuminated at night.

• The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing, and can be flown upside down only as a distress signal.

• On Memorial Day, the flag should be hung at half-staff until noon, when it should be raised to the top of the staff.

There are also some very specific rules for disposing of a tattered or torn flag. The U.S. Flag Code instructs: “The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Afterwards, the ashes should be buried in a proper ceremony.

Jonesborough’s Flag Committee partners with the Daniel Boone High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC to retire more than 1,000 flags from the region in an annual ceremony. Flag disposal drop-off boxes are located at the Jonesborough Post Office, David Crockett High School and the Food City in Gray.

And we shouldn’t forget to fly the Tennessee state flag, which was designed by Johnson City’s own Col. LeRoy Reeves more than a century ago. Reeves — an attorney and captain in the Tennessee National Guard — is responsible for our state’s most iconic symbols.

The Tennessee flag is one of the best designs for a state flag in the nation. With Johnson City’s sesquicentennial coming up next year, I think its fitting we find a place for his creation on our flagpoles.

Many mistakenly try to align the Tennessee flag so that the three stars are arranged like a triangle with one over two. That’s wrong.

Here’s a valuable tip for those who have trouble telling which end of the Tennessee flag is up. According to state law: “The highest star shall be the one nearest the upper confined corner of the flag.”

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