My wife was driving one morning when we passed through Silver City, New Mexico. I noticed that the flag in front of an elementary school was flying upside down. I asked my wife to turn around so that we could find out what was happening at that school.
I entered the school office and was greeted pleasantly by a receptionist who asked if she could help me. “I have come to help you,” I said. “Your flag is flying upside down which is universally recognized as a distress signal. Is there a problem?” I asked.
She was somewhat taken aback. “Let me find out what is going on,” she said. “I wasn’t aware that the flag was upside down and nobody else has said anything.” Well, it turned out that the janitor, in his haste that morning, had raised the flag upside down and hadn’t paused long enough to check his work.
After a recent meeting of the Blanco City Council I informed the mayor pro-tem that the United States flag was improperly displayed at the front of the room. He looked around and said that he hadn’t noticed.
As I substitute as a teacher in the schools of Blanco and Johnson City, I am gratified that in every classroom the flags of the United and States and Texas are prominently displayed. However, it is not unusual to find them displayed improperly. When that happens I always use the occasion to instruct the students in flag etiquette.
We just celebrated Memorial Day and before we know it the Fourth of July will be upon us. It is my hope that American flags will adorn every public building and fly or hang in front of every private residence all across Blanco County. But what do you say we do it correctly?
It is the universal custom to display the American flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.
The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. At these times, caution should be taken to see that the flag does not touch the ground.
When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union (the blue field of stars) should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. Within the United States, no other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America.
When flags of states, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the U.S. flag, the U.S. flag should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent flagpoles, the U.S. flag should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the U.S. flag or to the right of the U.S. flag.
When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, when displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in front of the audience and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker—to the right of the audience.
The American flag, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right—the flag’s own right as it faces the audience—and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
The U.S. flag, when flown at half staff, should be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
Only the President of the United States or a governor of a state may authorize that the National flag be flown at half staff.
When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union (blue field of stars) is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. The flag is not to be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
When displayed over the middle of a street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north over an east-west street, or to the east over a north-south street.
I must agree with David O. McKay who said, “I have nothing but contempt in my heart for men who would disgrace that flag or would mar the standards of freedom and individual liberty.”
When nations or individuals anywhere in the world are in jeopardy and in need of relief, which flag do they universally want to see coming to the rescue?
The flag of the United States of America is a glorious standard. Long may it wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.