I wrote the following piece a few years ago, and the situation has not improved regarding knowledge of flag etiquette in our country. The Volo Auto Museum showed the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine and the Bugs Bunny car in the Fox Lake, Illinois, Santa Parade yesterday. My kids and grandkids walked along side handing out candy and coupons to the spectators. When the Colors passed, only about half the people saluted. And when the Flag passed again later in the parade, no one saluted. They treated it like another float.
I also wish that people would look up proper ettitiquette when they fly the Flag outside their homes or businesses. The Flag should not be flown in the dark. If it is flown after sunset, it should be spot-lighted. If you cannot afford a spotlight, you should take the Flag down before you close or at sunset. It does not cost anything to send someone outside twice a day to raise and lower the Colors. That should be a priviledge, not overtime. Nor was the Flag meant to be a garden border. It is the symbol of our freedom and should be respected as such. People have died to protect us and our symbol. We need to respect it when we display it and when it passes us.
I told one of the Marines in the Color Guard that I would post this. I won a bronze medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition with this essay.
The Flag Drooped
One day the circus came to town. It was the Greatest Show on Earth and we had tickets. We piled into the minivan and headed downtown to a great stadium. Somehow, we got separated. Being disabled, I took the elevator to the third floor where my son-in-law said our seats were. But when I got off the elevator, there was no sign of the kids and they had my ticket. While I was waiting in the lobby, the announcer’s voice came over the speaker system. “Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth! Please rise for our National Anthem!”
As the music began I came to attention and saluted with my hand over my heart. I was the only one in the lobby who did. Vendors continued to sell popcorn and drinks. People checked their tickets and scurried toward doorways, urging each other to “Walk faster, we’re missing the start!”
The Flag drooped that day.
When I came home, I checked my e-mail. There was a message from my sister. You know, one of those things that get circulated. It was about the way terrorists are being treated. It was called “I Don’t Care…” It said “I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was ‘desecrated’ when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all. When I hear a story about a Marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care. When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college hazing incident, rest assured that I don't care.”
Again, the flag drooped.
Because you see, I do care. I do care when my fellow citizens ignore the Flag or the National Anthem. I do care when our country sinks to the level of the terrorists who attacked us. I DO care when the Bill of Rights is set aside. I do care when our soldiers act like criminals and do not represent our country with honor. I am ashamed of the atrocities our country has committed in the name of “the war against terror.” I don't think that Al Quaeda represents all people of Islamic belief anymore than the Ku Klux Klan represents all Americans.
This is not to say that I don't support our troops. I support those who represent the ideals of our country and serve with honor. I support those who protect and defend the Constitution as they have taken an oath to do. And I still salute when the flag passes by or when the National Anthem is played.
Yes, the Flag drooped that day. But there are still those of us who wave it high—with pride—and defend it with honor, as did our fathers and mothers and their fathers and mothers. God bless our Flag. God bless our country. God bless America.