The United States of America Flag ~ It Means Something

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:

16 thoughts on “The United States of America Flag ~ It Means Something

  1. Any country’s flag is supposed to be treated with respect.
    alas. The flag my country has now, has absolutely no meaning for me whatsoever. It’s an ugly, garish thing, with no dignity attached to it. To me it speaks of being ostracized and labelled the enemy, so i have no reverence for it. Same with the new national anthem. I don’t know the words, will never learn them, will never sing it.
    And in that guy’s defense, for many people a flag is just a flag – if they have no military or maybe boy scouts background, they were never taught the symbolic behind the flag, what to do and what not to do.

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  2. Several years ago, as I sat in my car waiting for our elementary school daughter to come out, I was watching a group of 3 kids taking the American flag down from the schools flagpole. It was apparent that the older girl was teaching the two younger ones “How to” do this properly. As I watched, one of the little ones let the descending flag drop to the ground. Even inside my car, I could hear the older student emphatically correct her “Oh! You never let the Flag touch the ground!!” Lower it slowly and gather it in your arms, it is very special.” The two smaller kids bowed their heads, agreeing.

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    • I wrote a note to the principal about the sweet and true, life lesson that the older girl had just taught. She was honored at the next school Assembly for her patriotic act. That may sound over-the-top but I can assure you, there are many adults who are lacking in Flag etiquette. The entire school learned what one girl taught by her example.

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  3. Hunt, I have found out over the last few months that the like button on a wordpress post is just not adequate. This post deserves a “Love” button. Way too many people in this country don’t have a clue as to flag protocol. and most of those folks don’t care. I was given an encased flag when I retired. That flag sits proudly on my desk, I see it every day. I have a flag flying by my front door, and I take proper care of it. Please take care, Bill

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