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Flag Day Pays Tribute to Old Glory as Symbol of American Liberty

By Ashleigh Covington
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2006 – Flag Day, June 14, pays tribute to an emblem millions of Americans fight for every day.

In 1777, America adopted the stars and stripes designed for the American flag. However, Flag Day traditions did not begin until 1885. It wasn't until President Truman passed an act in 1949 that Flag Day became nationally recognized.

"From our nation's earliest days, 'Old Glory' has stood for America's strength, unity and liberty," President Bush said in a recent press release recognizing the upcoming holiday. "During Flag Day and National Flag Week, we honor this enduring American symbol and celebrate the hope and ideals that it embodies."

Even though Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, the flag provides Americans a history of both triumph and struggle. Old Glory means a lot to many citizens, especially those serving in the military.

"Americans can look at it and say: 'This is who we are -- 50 distinctly different states with indefinitely different opinions, attitudes, backgrounds and ideas from the people this flag represents -- all unified for rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Army 1st Lt. Crystal M. Lauver, commander of 955th Engineering Company, said.

Lauver, who served in Baghdad, said she feels that displaying the stars and stripes is also a great way to show support to servicemembers everywhere. "I encourage everyone to display a flag," she said. "Displaying a flag, whether it is on a flagpole or printed on a T-shirt, can act as a conversation starter to be vocal about supporting our troops."

Caring for Old Glory not only means correctly displaying it, but appropriate public and private use. Many Americans are not familiar with common flag violations and how to avoid them.

Alan Walden, a historian and executive committee member of the American Flag Foundation, said he finds the most common mistakes make occur at homes and work places. "There are several things that are done without thinking whether they are disrespectful, but they are," he said.

  • A common violation is hanging the flag in the wrong direction. When a person hangs a flag either horizontally or vertically, the blue field must always be on the top left.
  • Another mistake is flying the flag without illumination at night. Whether at home or at a workplace, if a flag cannot be lit at night then it should be taken down at dusk.
  • Flags should also never be flown during inclement weather. This prevents unnecessary wear and tear and keeps the flag clean.
  • Finally, the American flag should never be worn. It is not a piece of clothing. It can be worn as an emblem attached to clothing, but it should never be worn itself.
Walden suggests the American Legion as a source to consult on issues concerning Old Glory. It provides the flag code and other books and videos about flag use to those who request it. The organization's mission is to maintain American traditions for the sake of the country.

While not everyone is aware of a flag code of conduct, Walden encourages citizens to value the nation's stars and stripes. "The American flag is the supreme totem of the United States," he said. "It is more than just a confection of colors or a confection of fabrics. It gives the world a single symbol of who and what we are.

"When the flag is shown, it is the enduring emblem of the United States."

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