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U.S. Flag ordered to half-staff

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACK IN NICE, FRANCE

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As a mark of respect for the victims of the attack perpetrated on July 14, 2016, in Nice, France, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, July 19, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA

 

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Half-staffing orders issued for U.S. and Texas flags

The Texas Governor’s office has issued half-staffing orders for the Texas flag, and President Obama has issued half-staffing orders for the U.S. flag, in honor and mourning for the five murdered law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas.

The half-staffing order for both flags continues through Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

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Happy Independence Day 2016

As we celebrate Independence Day 2016, it is good to think about those who contributed in a mighty way to the exploration of our new country. In the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, we read that on July 4, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery were west of the Mississippi River, in what is now Kansas, and camped near present-day Atchison.

Sierra Exif JPEG
A one-pounder cannon mounted on the bow of a boat, such as the one fired by Lewis and Clark on Independence Day, 1804.

Except for one man who was bitten by a snake (he lived), it was a good day for the explorers. They fired their small cannon both morning and evening. They took the time to eat some special foods that evening, and drank some whiskey. And I’m sure they toasted George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

Among other foods, the men ate “buffalo beef” (bison), corn, and beans. In honor of the day, Lewis and Clark named two nearby rivers. They named one “Creek Independence” and the other “4th of July 1804 Creek.”

I don’t know what I’ll be serving for our 4th of July meal, but I do have a bottle of fine whiskey, and as the sun goes down, I will offer a toast to Lewis and Clark, and their courageous men. Happy Independence Day to you, too.

 

 

 

 

 

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Canada Day!

Canada Day! There will be lots of celebrations, food, and fireworks.  Here is a short history about the beautiful Maple Leaf flag.

From coast to coast, and southern border to the top of the world, Canadians will sing their national anthem—Oh Canada. Here are three unique videos with the Canadian National Anthem (but not with the changed lyric because I could not find one). I am especially fond of the last video, and this link will explain why, so read it first.

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U.S. Flag displayed backwards

US flag backward with Texas flag US and Texas flags in store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos by Deborah Hendrick for The Daily Flag News)

These U.S. flag and Texas flag displays are inside the same store. The irony is that for more than a year, the two flags in the left photo were messed up the other way. Previously the U.S. flag was hung correctly, but the Texas flag was flipped, so the white stripe was on the right. Then someone “fixed” them. A good rule to remember is that the stars in our American flag (or the Lone Star) always point up, or to their own right—or to the left as we face the flags.

I especially like hoist displays of the flag, and I think it is under-utilized. The flag display shown on the right is gorgeous, and it’s the first thing you see when you come into the store. The store air-conditioning was just enough to make the flags gently flutter.

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Not found in the Flag Code

What the Flag Code doesn’t say

ScreenHunter_251 Jun. 24 15.44

There were a lot of news stories last week about flag retirement ceremonies, held in conjunction with Flag Day. Here are excerpts from three that I found especially troubling due to misinformation.  I edited them to remove names and other identifying information because I like these people and I don’t want to embarrass them: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the American Legion.

What the Flag Code says about retiring our American flag is short and succinct:

§8. Respect for flag:  (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.

We are given great latitude in how we conduct flag retirements. I am very grateful to the organizations that conduct these ceremonies; it is an honorable and welcome service that they perform. But imagine my surprise when I found a news story about a flag retirement ceremony that said this,

“ … the scouts recently participated in a flag retirement ceremony. This ceremony is necessary when a flag has become too worn to be displayed. In these cases, the respectful way to dispose of the  flag is for it to be burned. Only three entities can officially retire a flag. They are VFW posts, Scout troops and American Legion posts.” 

What? That’s not what the Flag Code says. Anyone can retire the flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution would be quite surprised to be told they can’t retire their own flags. I frequently encourage families to have their own flag retirement ceremonies. Get the children to write some sweet script, and take a moment to talk about important flags in American history.  I am willing to trust the average American to retire his own flag. We are all official when it comes to retiring the flag.

From another news story:

 “The various elements of the flag … The stars, the red and white stripes and the blue background are included on the flag for a specific purpose.  Once the description has been read, the flag is cut apart.

The stars are saved and will be presented to veterans at a later date [ … ]. The stripes are individually cut off the flag and placed in a fire. The fire container must only be used for flag retirement and nothing else. During the burning portion of the ceremony, no one is to speak and silence has to be maintained out of respect.  [ … ]  Flags are burned one at a time and only after a flag is completely burned will the next one be burned. Silence is observed throughout the entire ceremony.

In the Flag Code, directly above Subsection (k) is Subsection (j) which says [ … ] The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. [ … .]

If the flag is “considered a living thing,” then dismembering a flag so old and worn out that it’s ready for retirement is rather egregious in my opinion. The flag has already served in honor—now it’s faded, ripped and torn, tattered on the fly.  Isn’t that enough?

And why would cutting out the stars and saving them (set aside to be given away later) be more important than the stripes? The flag was never meant to be parceled out in bits and pieces. That’s why we set it on fire in a ceremony, and burn it to ashes. Otherwise we could be making quilts out of the stripes—or kites, and patriotically flying them on the 4th of July.

Our most popular flag myth

And I read this:

 “ … flags should be retired for a number of reasons. The first indication a flag has become unserviceable is faded colors, but [ … ]  a flag should be retired if it has touched the ground. It’s just been a principle of the flag etiquette for years in the country, which is to keep all flags from touching the ground … . “

“When it comes to proper disposal, [ … ] it’s best to leave it to the experts [said the American Legion commander, who ] discourages anyone from burning their own flag, and invites area residents to turn their worn out flags over to the American Legion or any other veterans organization.”

No where in the Flag Code does it say that if a flag touches the ground, it should be destroyed. Yes, every effort should be made to keep the flag from touching the ground and other things beneath it (landscaping for example, and automobiles at giant car dealerships), but destroying a perfectly good flag is unnecessary, and not supported by the text. I am certain if those who codified the Flag Code meant for us to retire a dropped flag, they would have mentioned it specifically.

Flags fall down. Home flags mounted on diagonal poles are especially vulnerable to being blown out of the mount. The wind can pull one out of your hands while putting it up or taking it down (it’s happened to me). It’s a good idea to have a back up flag, if the flag does get dirty, but it doesn’t have to be destroyed, it just needs to be laundered or sent to the dry cleaners.

From the same newspaper article:

How to properly retire a U.S. flag:  Once a U.S. flag becomes worn, frayed or dirty, the flag is considered unserviceable and unable to properly fly. In order to suitably retire a U.S. or other American national flag, several procedures are to be followed in order to avoid any disrespect or desecration. According to the Veterans Department of Affairs and U.S. Flag Code, here are the steps to burn a flag: (my italics–DH)

1. Prepare a fire large enough to sufficiently burn the entire flag.

2. Fold the flag in a customary triangle manner.

3. Place the flag on the fire carefully and respectfully.

4. Individuals should salute or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as observe a moment of silence.

5. Allow the flag to be completely consumed.

6. Once the fire is cool, collect the ashes and any pieces of the flag.

7. Bury the ashes.

[The American Legion commander said] “ in order to ensure the flag is disposed properly, the flag must be given to a veteran’s organization. [He] encourages anyone with an unserviceable flag to donate it to any local American Legion post.

The Department of Veterans Affairs compiled a 52-page booklet about American history, veterans, the flag, and the scope of the department. No where in the booklet does it say anything about flag retirement ceremonies except to repeat the same section from the Flag Code:

§8. Respect for flag:  (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.

Lastly, from the American Legion’s own website, in a section called Flag Myths, it identifies this myth:

You must destroy the flag when it touches the ground.
As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of our great country.

As I said at the beginning, I am grateful to civic and service organizations who perform the job of retiring our American flags. It’s an important service and it’s a big job, too. And they can choose any ceremony they want, but please make sure your script says, “This is how we like to retire the flag,” because it’s highly inappropriate and misleading to say “this is what the Flag Code says” when it doesn’t.

And don’t tell me I can’t retire my own flag.

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What “half-staff” means

United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 4 – FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES

CHAPTER 1—THE FLAG [ … ]

§7. Position and manner of display  [ … ]

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first 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. [ … ]

      (1) the term “half-staff” means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;   (my italics, for emphasis. DH)

Just as the top of the flag goes all the way to the top of the flagpole,  when “half-staffed” the  top of the flag should be placed at the “top” of the half-way point on the flag pole. No more, no less.  For example, on a 50 ft flag pole, the top of the flag would be placed at the 25 ft mark.

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President orders national flag to half-staff

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

June 12, 2016

Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Orlando, Florida

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACK IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA 

– – – – – – – 

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION 

As a mark of respect for the victims of the act of hatred and terror perpetrated on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, June 16, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 

twelfth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth. 

BARACK OBAMA

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Hello. I’m back, and I missed you.

American Flag for DesktopHello. I’m back, and I missed you. I haven’t posted anything new in a long time because I ran out of things to say. I was repeating myself, and that was boring. At the same time, two writing projects simmering on the back burner were heating up, and it was time to pursue them. Which I did.

I wrote one book, four-fifths of a second book, and I have a good outline on a third. The first book needs a second edit. The second book was so bad that I couldn’t finish it, but the third book—oh it has real promise. And it’s a book—don’t be surprised—about flags. So I will continue working on the book about flags, and resume writing again at The Daily Flag News.

While things have been quiet at The Daily Flag News, readers continue to find us, and I personally still answer a lot of questions. Questions that proved me wrong about repeating myself. Some things are worth repeating, but that also tells me I need to make some changes in my how I present topics.

You may recall that previously, the flag store was named Flags Bay. I liked that name, and chose it while I lived on Galveston Bay, Texas. But over time I came to think of the entire web site as The Daily Flag, and ultimately decided that I liked that name better.  Now the flag store is named The Daily Flag, and the blog will be called the The Daily Flag News. More changes are coming, but if I do things right, you won’t notice.

 

 

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Is it ok to fly a company flag on the same pole with the U.S. flag?

U.S. flag with corporate flagIs is ok to fly a company flag on the same flagpole with the U.S. flag? That’s a recurring question here at The Daily Flag, and the answer never changes:  No.

A prime example

The developers of this subdivision made two poor business decisions. They spent a lot of money on a towering flagpole so they could fly a huge, eye-catching American flag. It certainly caught my eye. If the American flag were the only flag flying on the pole, I wouldn’t bother writing this post. However, with their corporate flag flying underneath the American flag on the same halyard, they get their photograph and a dishonorable mention on my website instead.

Why is it wrong?

Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, paragraph (i) of the U.S. Code clearly states:

§8. Respect for flag
(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. (Italics mine)

Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown. Please don’t tell me a corporate flag isn’t an advertising sign. It is. For the same amount of money, the property developers probably could have erected two smaller flagpoles—one for the U.S. flag, and one for the corporate flag of the developer. But the smaller flagpoles wouldn’t have been as highly visible from the busy elevated thoroughfare running alongside the subdivision.

It gets worse

The second bad business decision made by the developer of this subdivision is that the American flag is too large for the pole it is flying on, making it impossible to fly the flag at half-staff. It would brush against the model home, and landscaping. Businesses that like to attract attention with these big flags invariably make the same mistake: they put up a flag that is way out of proportion for the flag pole, and it is too big to be half-staffed.

Those who wrote and codified the Flag Code assumed that Americans of honor and goodwill would follow the statutes. What a shame that a business would choose their advertising over truly honoring the flag, when an appropriate display would have been so easy to achieve.