It was dark with that dawn chill as I walked to my car, with light just possibly gracing the sky, stars fading, utter quiet, the grass wet with early morning dew, soft sounds of birds just waking, requiring headlights still as I pulled out of the space and began the drive to work. The streets I drove had become so familiar to me that there were certain blocks that felt like friends. I looked for certain houses to see how they were doing. There is one particular long-winding curvy section that I looked forward to seeing every single morning. For some reason, this road flies more USA flags than any other, except for special holidays. When I would spot the flag, I would know the neighbors were okay, they were doing fine. One house flies another country’s flag underneath the Stars and Stripes; another has the Marine Corps flag underneath, and far away, at the bottom of hill, right before the curve is a bungalow type house with a triangle shaped property, utterly squared away, the front porch with two chairs just so, the flag pole planted just so, the flag sometimes just still, sometimes blowing gently, often snapping in the wind, and if I rolled my window down, I could sometimes hear the clink of metal against pole. Occasionally, the owner changes out the flag to the yellow one of Don’t Tread on Me, known as The Gadsden flag, seemingly tied with events ongoing in our body politic.
There’s another house where large MIA/POW flag flies beneath the USA flag.
Every moment of every day I am out and about, I see that flag, my country’s flag, flying from rooftops, poles, on the side of houses, inside and outside, large, small, to mini flags flown on cars and trucks.
I was at a meeting the other day and, when it ended, I was standing, chatting with a man who was tidying up a table, putting things away in a plastic carton that contains materials for the monthly meeting. Something caught my attention. He had taken the flag from its stand and he folded it much like a beach towel and tossed it in to the waiting carton. I was stricken dumb, still staring at the flag in the carton, now nestled against odds and ends.
I wanted to say something, but quickly realized I had no idea how to tell him to fold that flag properly. I have attended dozens of ceremonies and I knew for a fact there are specific protocols regarding the U.S. flag. The man, clearly meaning no harm or disrespect, grabbed the box and moved off. A memory flashed from when I was 12. I had sent my brother a letter while he was attending boot camp courtesy of the United States Marine Corps. He wrote back, furious with me. I had inadvertently put the stamp upside down on the envelope, for which he had had to do thousands of pushups or clean all the latrines with a toothbrush. To this day, I am very careful when putting a stamp on an envelope.
I came home and immediately went online to learn the proper way to fold the United States of America’s flag. There is an enormous amount of material on this subject. There are videos that show how to properly raise and lower the flag, how to fold it and what each of those folds means. There are some people who delight in the destruction of the sacred and for whom burning the United States of America’s flag is their own statement of freedom or hatred. Then, there are those of us who honor the meaning of that flag which represents a living country and as such is considered a living thing.
This one is done by by two people:
And this is done by the United States Marine Corp.at a funeral with two Marines:
This is how it is done with six Marines: