By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
I don’t remember the circumstances in which I learned the proper uses and care of our flag. Maybe it began in scouting. And it is our flag by the way, whether we be radical or reactionary, liberal or conservative. The flag of the United States of America is exactly that, not the flag exclusively brandished by any political or cultural subset of the Union. It is also our flag honored by the wide diversity of citizens who have fought and stand ready to fight in defense of that for which it stands.
I’m probably wrong in the particulars and certainly the standards change, but here goes. Our flag is best displayed on a pole, standing, or at an angle. It is best displayed at a public or government institution. The flag should not be continually flown in extremes of weather or allowed to become faded or torn. The flag is not a decoration, but if used as such it may be displayed in the form of bunting. A flag not properly furled, flown or standing, should be tri-folded at rest. Representations of the flag in pins, patches, paint, or decals on clothing and other surfaces should denote a specific service to the Union.
With these matters in mind, I suggest that our flag in its design should not be fiddled with in any eccentric way, changing its colors or adding other flags, especially of our avowed enemies of the Union for which it stands. Also, our flag is best flown alone but, if one must, it might be flown above a state flag or the ensign of a military service. Anything else is a mockery to those who carried our flag in defense of our Union. If anyone needs to make some kind of statement with some kind of flag (historic, political, or religious) then fly it alone and well on private property.
Travelling all over our nation, I have seen many bizarre uses and display of our flag. You have too. Recently I saw a full-size flag, torn, wet, and greasy flapping behind an eighteen-wheeler. I felt the same way about that as I do when I see our enemies burning Old Glory. On the other hand, I wouldn’t feel that way about a crisp flag flying from a firetruck. It might be very appropriate for our first responders and intensive care professionals to wear flag patches on their uniforms. And on this note, too many flags especially on private property is too much of a good thing, except on the 4thof July or Veteran’s Day. It’s a matter of good taste.
I’m concerned about excessive displays and venerations of our flag. Nationalism, like almost everything else under the sun, is good in moderation, but can be dangerous in excess. Flag waving can be both good and bad according to the purposes and agendae for which it may be flown. Recently I saw an odd rosary on sale in a religious shop. The cross that forms the beginning and end of the rosary circuit was not the traditional crucifix. Rather, it was a standard form cross with our flag inlaid instead of the body of Jesus. The beads of the decades were red, white, and blue. Both my discipleship and my patriotism were deeply offended. Something there was very wrong for both symbols, and I both salute our flag and say the rosary.
Once I was a senior of a religious institution, which was moving offices in a building program. In emptying our old closets, we came across a folded flag familiar to military rites in funerals. No one knew to whom it might belong. We didn’t know what to do with it. A retired Army colonel who was helping us move overheard our dilemma. He offered to care for the flag. He said he knew what to do. He carefully held it to his chest with folded arms and took it to his car without saying a word and did not want to talk about it upon return. I knew that the flag was no relation to him. I also knew that he had served two tours of duty in Vietnam. I don’t cry much, but for some reason my eyes watered up and I caught a catch in my throat. I had witnessed many military rites at graveside, even in national cemeteries, many with rifle salutes and TAPS. This particular little rite is by far most memorable for me.