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Thursday, June 14, 2007

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.



GayProf said...

I never understood the fuss about the flag. It's just a flag, people.

Anonymous said...

I came to the US at 18. And the whole flag issue has always struck me as entirely schizoprenic. It's perfectly okay, and no one vociferously protests when it's on everything from undies to flip-flops to napkins (all disposable and/or "dirty" things)and commercially viable. But somehow it's a terrible thing when the same flag's respectfully displayed to make another point. And yes, flying it at half-mast on Memorial Day in the middle of a war that's claimed thousands of lives strikes me as a heck of a lot more respectable as protests and political points go.