Category Archives: flag etiquette

G is for Green

The flag of Brazil
There was an answer on the game show JEOPARDY! recently (2010, Jan 27)- IT’S NO WHITE $1000: According to Webster’s, the serpentine shade of this color is “paler than citrine”.
The question was “What is green”? I had no idea. (I guessed yellow.)

I’m a Roy G. Biv kind of guy, that, of course, representing the main colors of rainbow. You know, yellow and blue equals green; the basic stuff.

But in fact, I do there are lots of gradations of green. I’m also aware in the color spectrum as used in HTML, that colors are “defined using a hexadecimal (hex) notation for the combination of Red, Green, and Blue color values (RGB)”.

Flag of Norfolk Island, “tax free haven of Australia”
I’ve always been fascinated by flags. For flags, green can symbolize the Earth, agriculture, fertility, and/or the Muslim religion.

Before our child was born – and we never knew the gender until she was born – we categorically eliminated some names from consideration:
Olive Green
Kelly Green
Forest Green

And since my last name IS Green, I get to list some of my favorite green things:

Vermont: the nearby Green Mountain state

M&Ms and, specifically, Tegan’s continuing green M&M challenge.

Monopoly: one of my favorite board games features little green houses

Green Goblin: favorite villain in my favorite comic book, Spider-Man

The Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics of the mid-1970s.

Going green: the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse & recycle

Greenwich Mean Time: longitude and time are reckoned by the prime meridian

Green Eggs and Ham: An editor bet that Dr. Seuss could not write a book using 50 words or less; he lost. It’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday today!

Naturally, the music:

Al Green-Take Me To The River
Creedence Clearwater Revival-Green River
The Lemon Pipers-Green Tambourine
And finally, the song that’s been sung by Frank Sinatra, Audra McDonald, Van Morrison and countless others, but never better than by the amphibian: Being Green-Kermit the Frog.

ABC Wednesday


Burn that flag!

There are a whole bunch of law having to do with the US flag, codified in 4USC:
1. Flag; stripes and stars on.
2. Same; additional stars.
3. Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag.
4. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery.
5. Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of
rules and customs; definition.
6. Time and occasions for display.
7. Position and manner of display.
8. Respect for flag.
9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag.
10. Modification of rules and customs by President.

Here’s Section 8, with a few notes in italics from me.

Sec. 8. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
Is a time of war a period of “dire distress”?
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
Actually, something I try to teach the child.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
I’ve seen the flag as wearing apparel by people who wear trying to be “patriotic”.
(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
Elsewhere in the title, there are times to fly it: “The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.”
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
Seen that.
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
I have occasionally seen company logo flags on the same pole as the US flag.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
I didn’t know that sports teams were “patriotic organizations.
(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
Lots of ragged old flags out there, especially since 9/11/2001. If you don’t want to burn it yourself, take it to the local VFW.


Genesis 1, the polar bear and the space alien

Two news stories caught my attention this week, and both of them are tied to the Creation story in Genesis 1. I should note that I’ve read Genesis 1 a lot, not so much because of its specific significance as much as it is, well, “in the beginning.” I have endeavored to read the Bible all the way through a number of times, but succeeded only twice; in 1977, the King James version; and 1995-1996, the Revised Standard Version.
Those failed attempts are not unlike those nine-cent first volumes of the encyclopedias that supermarkets used to sell, which, of course, contained everything one needed to know about the aardwolf and the abacus; I owned a lot of A sections.
In fact Genesis 1, and the first three and a half verses of Genesis 2, made up the lectionary for this past Sunday. The lectionary, in case you are not familiar, is a methodology that the Church devised to read through much of the Bible over a three-year cycle.
So, I don’t think it was mere coincidence that the Vatican scientist suggested last week that there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of “extraterrestrial brothers”. In other words, or more correctly, in other worlds in this vast universe, there may be similar Creations, with a similar contract between Creator and the life forms there, the Vatican scientist posits.
Not so incidentally, it was in this most recent reading, in context with the Vatican pronouncement, that I fully realized just how much the Creation story implies an earth-centered universe. Verse 16 (NIV): “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” No wonder the views of Copernicus, greatly amplified by Galileo, seemed so heretical. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 that the Roman Catholic Church acknowledged it had been wrong about Galileo.
The other news story was about the polar bear being added to the threatened species list in the U.S. If the Creator gave dominion of the creatures to humans, it came with responsibilities as well. Unfortunately, as a practical matter, the listing may mean little, since the White House says that pronouncement was not intended to address greenhouse gas emissions, apparently the polar bear’s real enemy.
Make wearing a flag pin the 28th Amendment.
Oh, no! I find myself largely agreeing with Pat Buchanan!


21 days

Sometimes, I just need to guess, even when I can look it up. I was trying to surmise why June 14, specifically, is Flag Day. Is it that there are 21 days from June 14 to July 4, inclusive, which seems to have morphed National Flag Week into a nearly month long tricolor display? Is this somehow tied to the 21-gun salute or the 21 steps used at Arlington National Cemetery?

Evidently not: the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag on June 14, 1777, 230 years ago today. BTW, there have been 27 versions of the flag over the years.

In the Business Review (May 25, 2007), the local business weekly, it was reported that a pizza shop owner in Latham has lowered the American flag to half staff in front of his shop on May 18 to honor the more than 3,400 soldiers killed in Iraq. From the headline, it was also a way to protest the war. The story has angered an Iraq war vet, who wrote in the June 1 issue that he was disappointed in the paper for running such a story on Memorial Day weekend. He also noted Title 4 of the United States Code, Section 7(m) gives the allowable reasons for flying a flag; the protest was not one of the acceptable reasons.

This reminded me of some flag etiquette issues that took place during the VietNam War. There were some who flew the flag upside down. From Title 4, Section 8 (a) of the U.S. Code: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Of course, I believe those engaged in the behavior believed that the war WAS an “extreme danger to life or property.”

I understand both the pizza man’s protest AND the soldier’s frustration. I recognize that the flag lowering could be perceived as provocative. Yet, the soldier’s point is a bit legalistic, I think, given other sections of the code violated freely:
8 (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Like this never happens.

Oh, and I still stand by what I wrote about flag burning a couple years back.
Bombs away! Or, as the person sending me this link wrote: Want to see something really stupid? I thought this was just an urban legend, but apparently not.


Ragged Old Flag

My family was not one that flew the flag on major patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, etc.) I don’t know why, and I never asked. One could theorize, and my May 30 post may provide some insight, but it would be just an educated guess. They may not have even owned one.
So I was a bit surprised when I went down to visit my family in North Carolina in 2002 that there was this flag motif in the front yard. Of course, my father was deceased by then, but it got me thinking that there’s one thing 9/11 definitely DID change.

(There’s an interesting debate about flag pins in the Letters to the Editor section of a webpage I came across.)

After 9/11, and the beginnings of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been lots of flags put up, not just in front of homes, but from vehicles, at highway overpasses, in store windows, and the like.

Though I still don’t own a flag myself, I’ve found that I have been bothered by the well-meaning displays of the colors, but not for the reasons you might guess. It bugs me because too many of them look TERRIBLE- flags that are frayed, torn, soiled, faded.

There are rules for displaying the flag in the U.S. Code, the codification of laws in the United States, and one section deals specifically with treatment of the colors.

You don’t make a scarf for a dog in the Memorial Day parade out of a small flag (as I saw in Oneonta this year.)

When a flag is worn out, you take it and ceremonially burn it. Yes, burn it. There was a real to-do about creating an anti-flag burning amendment to the Constitution a few years back. I always wondered how it would have been worded so that the legitimate disposal of the flag could be achieved.

So, if you have a flag, or have put a flag in a public place, check it out. If it looks worn out, take it down, and dispose of it properly. If the idea of burning the flag bothers you, bring it to the local VFW. It’s very likely that they will do it for you.

If you want, get a new flag to replace the old. Do it now, in this prime flag flying period that ends on Independence Day. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

I know that Johnny Cash performed a song called Ragged Old Flag, but it was ragged because it had been through battle, not through the car wash once too often.