While driving through Silver City, New Mexico, we passed an elementary school where I noticed that the United States flag was flying upside-down. I told my wife that that was a distress signal. We turned around and she parked the car in front of the school and I went inside. The school secretary greeted me in a cheery voice asked if she could help me.
“I’m here to see if I can help you,” I said. When she looked at me rather quizzically, I told her that the flag was flying upside-down in front of the school. I explained that that was a signal that something was amiss and asked if everything was alright. She glanced out the front window and said, “Oh, the janitor must have been in a hurry this morning and put it upside-down.” She thanked me and I left the building.
At a recent county fair parade in San Antonio I noticed on a particular float that the United States flag was improperly displayed and that the Texas flag was flying upside-down. Just the other day, I stopped at a business in Blanco and informed the proprietor that the United States and Texas flags should be reversed in order to bring them into compliance with the rules of etiquette for displaying the flags. He seemed genuinely grateful for my input and said that he didn’t know.
Perhaps I am just a little “nit-picky” about how the flags are displayed but I think that it is important. Those flags mean a lot to me and each one is symbolic of greatness and each was “redeemed by the shedding of blood.”
A World War II veteran by the name of Howard Schnauber perhaps reflected my feelings in something he wrote:
“I am the flag of the United States of America. My name is Old Glory. I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings. I stand watch in America’s halls of justice. I fly majestically over institutions of learning. I stand guard with power in the world.
“Look up and see me. I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice. I stand for freedom. I am confident. I am arrogant. I am proud. When I am flown with my fellow banners, my head is a little higher, my colors a little truer. I bow to no one! I am recognized around the world. I am saluted. I am loved. I am revered. I am respected. And I am feared.
I have fought in every battle of every war for more than two hundred years. I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox. I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, and the beaches of Normandy, Guam. Okinawa, Korea, Khesan, Saigon, Vietnam know me—I was there. I led my troops, I was dirty, battle scarred and tired, but my soldiers cheered me and I was proud.
“I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt for I am invincible. I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my own country and when it’s by those whom I‘ve served in battle it hurts. But I shall overcome for I am strong.
“I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon. I have borne silent witness to all America’s finest hours. But my finest hours are yet to come.
“When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield; when I am flown at half mast to honor my soldiers, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of his or her fallen son or daughter, I am proud.
“I am Old Glory. Long may I wave! Dear God in Heaven, long may I wave!”
(Fort Collins Public Library Local History Archive, Oral History Interview of Mr. Howard Schnauber)