Yet, despite not being one who normally displays our flag I try not to show it anything but respect, I was raised to do so. So, it sometimes simply amazes me how disrespectful some United States Citizens and others within our borders can be when it comes to our flag. sometimes the disrespect is due to wanton vileness on the part of the person who is being disrespectful such as when someone carries the flag upside down at a rally or in a parade, or when someone drags it on the ground in protest, or when someone burns it while cursing our nation. Other times, the disrespect just may be overlooked because the person committing it has an honestly well intentioned purpose to bend the rules just a bit. Examples of this would be someone wearing a flag T-shirt to express patriotism (I am guilty of this one), or when a politician autographs a flag for a person at a patriotic event. While there are other reasons people may show disrespect to our flag, I suppose the number one reason is probably due to ignorance. Many people apparently do not realize that there is a certain set of rules or protocol to be used, by all of us, when displaying or even sometimes observing the Flag of the United States of America.
I guess that a lot of the ignorance about our flag and the respect tat should be shown for it, is due to the society that we have become. Vandals, malcontents, illegal immigrants, racists of any race, ultra leftists with an agenda, extremist on the right with an agenda, often show disrespect for the flag as a way of showing disrespect for their political opponents or for those who have an agenda that differs from their own. What they fail to realize is that the American flag is not the symbol of those on the right, those in the middle or those on the left or those with other ideals - it is the symbol of our great nation the banner of our citizenry across all political, racial, ethnic, ideological lines for we the People of the United States of America. It is our flag, your flag, my flag, if you are a citizen or legal resident of the United States of America and is also often soon to become the flag of those masses who strive to legally immigrate to the USA and become U.S. Citizens.
I learned that early in life, that it is our flag. I also learned to respect the flag and to pledge allegiance to it. I learned that in grammar school, those nuns sank it in man did they ever, and I learned it at cub scouts, and I learned it at summer camp. One respected our flag. It was awhile later on, probably just before I turned into a teen or maybe in my early teen years, that I truly learned to exactly what I was pledging allegiance. It was not only to our flag but to our nation, to each and every state united under that flag, to the U.S. possessions, and to the people of this great land - all united despite our differences and all living united under our Constitution. Whether or not you liked me, or whether or not liked you, did not give me or you cause to disrespect our flag because in doing so you disrespect not only the other guy but all of the people of the United States of America who ever were, are or will be and everything for which this country stands. Those whom you disrespect when you disrespect the flag include: the Founding Fathers, the pioneers, native Americans, they who carried the flag into battle unarmed, those who dropped their arms to pick it up and continue the charge armed only with it (this was common among Union soldiers during the war between the states), they who sacrificed their lives in wartime and peacetime to keep our nation safe, they who work hard to make America a good place to live (such as farmers, factory workers, teachers, policemen, firemen, nurses, doctors, judges, nuns, ministers, butchers, clerks, auto mechanics, philosophers, professors, dentists, laborers, scientists, blacksmiths, explorers, bankers, even lawyers and politicians). It also includes non-citizens such as they who clamor to come here from abroad and are willing to do so legally because they believe this the greatest nation on the earth and is worth getting to under its laws. Then too, it includes: they who respectfully disagree with your point of view, they who do so disrespectfully or illegally, those who are our political allies or are our opponents. Disrespect for the flag also shows disrespect for our children, our grandparents and other family members, our ancestors, our descendants, and most of all - ourselves.
We have become a nation of folks who show disrespect to one another on a daily basis. It happens while flipping the bird to someone driving on the highway who may have just cut you off, it happens when we don't hold the door for the person behind us, it happens when we try to enter a room or an elevator or a bus or a subway car before letting others exit first, it happens when we fail to say please or thank you or excuse me when appropriate, it happens when we walk down a hallway staying to the left instead of to the right, it happens during political rallies or when we talk politics, it happens every moment of every day and almost every American is guilty of it to one extent or another. The thing is though, it has been happening so much and with such force that we have forgotten the most important thing about being citizens or legal residents of the United States of America - that is that:
Our flag is a symbol of the unity that we need to survive and to thrive as a nation. Disrespect for our flag is not only a symbol of division, it is actual divisiveness - a destruction of our unity and therefore a destruction of our nation when it is performed purposefully as described above. It is also a plaque on our nation when done for commercial purposes such as selling underwear or other clothing items that represent or look like the flag and additionally is a pox on our system of government when politicians exploit it and that for which it stands or otherwise disrespect it to gain political favor from one side or another. Finally, even inadvertent disrespect for our flag is akin to a social disease from which most of us suffer to one degree or another. So what can be done to remedy it all.
First of all, we can begin again to make sure that respect for the flag is taught in elementary school. It would be a lot better to teach our children that, in the 1st grade on up through graduation from high school, than it would be to teach them about how to use a condom to prevent getting HIV/AIDS in elementary school. That could wait at least until 7th or 8th grade. Anyone who says otherwise has a screw loose if they truly think sexual behavior should be taught to kids younger than that in school, after all they do have parents. On the other hand, teaching them about the flag, and respect for the flag and their country, will teach them about respecting other Americans. Having them all learn that respect for the flag as a unifying symbol of Americans will help create a tolerance that so many seem to demand today but that they not really try to foster. It will show them, that even though they think differently, look different, act different, speak with different accents, come from different places - they are all united under the flag if they are citizens or legal residents (they who immigrated here legally). Let's face it - I am not including illegal aliens here because for the most part they disrespect our flag by there first act on our soil being a criminal act - they just don't care about the sovereignty of our nation at all as I see it.
If we could get back to doing such a simple thing once again, it would do more to create a spirit of unity in this country than any president, any movie star, any catastrophe, any court order or interpretation of the Constitution, or any other thing of which you could think. Each and every parent and each and every school in this country should be obligated to teach our children about our flag and about how we should all respect it if for no other reason because respecting it means respecting one another as one Nation under God (take those two words or not), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
If you think you may not be upon flag protocol as much as you should be, then maybe you want to click on the links in the red zone over to the right of my blog page under the header 'U.S. Flag". Then again, even if you think you know it all about Old Glory, you might find out a few things that you would be surprised to learn. Once you know the basics, you can start teaching your kids. I am certainly going to use them to educate myself.
All the best,