July 1, 2009

Flag City, U.S.A.

It was the sight of a long stretch of American flags on Redmond streets, a welcome-home event for some Desert Storm soldiers in 1991, which inspired a group of citizens to form the Redmond Flag Committee.

Within eight years the group had “sold” more than 700 flags: each four-by-six flag is sponsored by an individual or organization and embroidered with a name, usually a veteran.

This year the committee puts up more than 1,000 flags on seven major display days (sometimes more, such as when a fallen soldier is brought home).

Hauling that many wooden poles out of a trailer, unfurling 24 square feet of red, white and blue polyester and finding an open hole in the concrete sidewalk at 6 a.m. in the morning is not an easy task, nor is showing up 12 hours later to do the same thing in reverse.

According to Randy Povey, founding member of the committee, the group is hoping to recruit more members. It can take as little as an hour to blanket the city in flags if a nice size group shows up, but it can also last for hours with just a few volunteers. In addition to flag display days, the committee holds occasional work days for flag maintenance and clearing out display holes

The group is also in need of an additional trailer; its 1,000-plus flags have maxed out the one they use now. Any covered, lockable trailer will work but best might be an ATV hauler, according to the committee’s Web site.

The language of the federal code makes clear that the flag is a living symbol, but even the most patriotic citizen confuses the rules of flag display at times. According to USA.gov, a Web site dedicated to all things federal, it’s as important to know what not to do with the U.S. flag, as it is to know what to do.
Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness. The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag.
The U.S. flag, when carried in a procession with another or other flags, should be either on the marching right (the flag’s own right) or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line. Never display the U.S. flag from a float except from a staff, or so suspended that its folds fall free as though staffed.

The U.S. flag, when displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the U.S. flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

The U.S. flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

When the U.S. flag is displayed other than from a staff, it should be displayed flat, or so suspended that its folds fall free. When displayed over a street, place the union so it faces north or east, depending upon the direction of the street.

When other flags are flown from the same halyard, the U.S. flag should always be at the peak. When other flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the U.S. flag should be hoisted first and lowered last. No flag may fly above or the right of the U.S. flag (except flags of other nations; see below).

When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

When the U.S. flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When suspended from a rope extending from the building on a pole, the flag should be hoisted out, union first from the building.

When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the U.S. flag should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergy’s or speaker’s right facing the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the speaker or to the right of the audience.

If displayed flat against the wall on a speaker’s platform, the U.S. flag should be placed above and behind the speaker with the union of the flag in the upper left-hand corner as the audience faces the flag.

During a ceremony when hoisting, lowering or when the flag is passing in parade, all persons should face the flag, stand at attention and salute. A man should remove his hat and hold it with the right hand over the heart. Men without hats and women salute by placing the right hand over the heart. The salute to the flag in the moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes

Out of respect for the U.S. flag, never:
Dip it for any person or thing, even though state flags, regimental colors and other flags may be dipped as a mark of honor.
Display it with the union down, except as a signal of distress.
Let the flag touch anything beneath it: ground, floor, water, merchandise.
Carry it horizontally, but always aloft.
Fasten or display it in a way that will permit it to be damaged or soiled.
Place anything on the flag, including letters, insignia, or designs of any kind.
Use it for holding anything.
Use it as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should not be used on a costume or athletic uniform. (However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.)
Use the flag for advertising or promotion purposes or print it on paper napkins, boxes or anything else intended for temporary use and discard.

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