Today my husband and I took our 3 daughters and 3 of their friends to Como Zoo. It was a beautiful day for the zoo and our youngest daughter had never been there, plus I needed a bit of a distraction from thinking of 9/11/01 just for a couple hours.
As we were laughing and joyfully watching our 2 year olds face light up with each new animal she saw watched the other 5 girls, skip and run through the zoo from one attraction to the other I found myself upset again. I noticed that Como Zoo didn't have any of their American Flags at half staff today and I was very upset by it. I went up to probably 5 different employees during our time there to let them know their flags weren't at half staff and each time, I just got a weird look, an 'uh OK', or some other half-hearted reply. I gently reminded them today was September 11th and our flags should be at half staff, empty stares. I don't know if they ever put their flags at half staff later on in the day or not, we were there for almost 3 hours and they didn't while we were there. Because of that, on the way home, I was talking to my husband and we started noticing other flags that weren't at half staff dotting the Twin Cities, most in front of office buildings that are empty on the weekends. I started thinking to myself, I bet many people don't know flag etiquette anymore.
See, when my husband and I were growing up, we remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school every morning, we weren't allowed to 'touch' the flag in the classroom and every morning I remember the 'big kids' got to go out together and hoist the flag up the pole and every afternoon we would watch other big kids taking the flag down and folding it oh so carefully. The flag didn't fly on our schools flag pole in storms, on weekends, at night or during the summer months. It only flew during the school day. So, I got to thinking and did some research on 'flag etiquette' today.
First of all, today was Patriot Day and all American flags should have been flown at half staff as ordered by Governor Pawlenty. So, on to some of the rules I discovered, I will list the ones that meant the most to me, you might know others as there are many, but easy to remember.
-The flag should never touch anything beneath it (such as the ground)
-The flag should never be used as wearing apparel (should never be on clothing, blankets, etc)
-No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America
-The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing
-When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner
-The flag should be lighted at all times, whether by sunlight or by an appropriate light source
-The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations
There are many more simple and easy rules to follow when it comes to our American flag. I will put some links up at the end of the blog post. But all these things I saw today and have been seeing over the years, I got to wondering a few things. When did we forget about the correct way to display our flags, when did it become OK for our athletes to wrap themselves in the American flag after winning sporting events? When did it become OK for our children to not say the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools? Are we not all living in the same country, enjoying the same freedoms our flag stands for?
My husband is truly the word-smith in our family and I wish I could say things as well as he does, but I will try. He mentioned to me, that he wondered with the lack of respect we show our own flag for our country, how can we expect others to respect our flag or for that matter, our country? Wow, I agree. Maybe it is time to go back to the basics, go back to the time when our flag was honored, our flag was saluted, we stood for our National Anthem with our hands on our hearts, our hats off our heads and we saluted our soldiers and our American Flag stood for something.
As a child, I never really understood what the flag stood for, other than the stars representing each state, but now as an adult, who vividly remembers 9/11/01 and who is raising 4 children in this changed country, this changed world of ours, I see how much we have lost just by not understanding a few simple and basic rules about our country's flag.
Here are the links I found: