Happy Independence Day everyone!
This is the day we celebrate our freedom from tyranny and the birth of our nation. I want you to be sure to get out an enjoy all the trappings of freedom, independence, and patriotism. Enjoy the fireworks, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, going on a picnic, the fun of a baseball game, and anything else you do to celebrate America. As you do these things, however, I’d like you to take a moment and reflect on the symbols and sounds of our nation and to have enough respect to do things right.
First, a little history. On June 22, 1942, Congress passed a joint resolution (amended on Dec. 22, 1942), that became known as the U.S. Flag Code. That code outlines how we should respect the flag. It says that members of the armed services and veterans should stand at attention and salute when the flag is passing in a parade or being raised or lowered. Civilians should place their right hand over their heart.
The flag may be displayed any day but not during bad weather. It is customary to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open and at night if properly illuminated.
When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union (blue field with stars) should be to the observer’s left. In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
The code gives a long list of proper ways to display the flag, when it should be at half-mast, and other etiquette. It also talks about what not to do with a flag, how it should be displayed with other flags, proper care and disposal, etc. Rather than go into the minutia of detail, I’d rather take the time to remind people about a matter of patriotism and etiquette that has been trampled on ever since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem at a football game 2016.
Although the protests are no longer in the headlines, the damage has been done and it is widespread and ongoing. I respect the reason Kaepernick and others have protested (against systemic racial injustice in this country) and I respect their right to protest, but I vehemently deplore their method.
Since that time I have never been to a sporting event from preps to pros where players have uniformly shown the proper respect for the flag and this country. If you look at the players during the national anthem you will see many of them standing with their heads bowed and their hands at their sides or behind their backs, if they’re paying attention at all.
I also want to use this moment to call out my beloved Sugar Land Skeeters. The patriotic violations are rampant and disgusting and that starts from the manager down. I understand that many of the players are foreigners and not U.S. citizens, but they still owe this country the respect it deserves for giving them the opportunity to come here and do what they love.
The problem I first perceived with the national anthem protests has now come to fruition. There was no endpoint for the protest. It is open-ended and ongoing. There is no measurement that indicates when racial equality has been achieved. It’s too subjective. In the meantime, generations of Americans are thinking that it’s OK – even encouraged – to disrespect the flag and our country.
This needs to stop. It’s past time to move the protests to other arenas and restore honor and dignity to our country and her symbols. For those who have forgotten, or never learned, there is a code of behavior regarding performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the pledge of allegiance.
When reciting the pledge, all citizens should stand at attention facing the flag and saluting with your right hand over your heart. Men should remove their hats, and women any sports caps. When in uniform, military personnel and first responders give a military salute. Veterans and service personnel out of uniform may give a military salute or place their hand over their heart. As a side note about reciting the pledge, the phrase “one nation under God” does not have a break in it. Do not pause between “nation” and “under.”
Everyone physically capable should rise, remain standing, and salute by placing their right hand over their heart during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. If applicable, people should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.
This is not rocket science. This is a matter of duty, honor, respect, patriotism, privilege, and integrity. It is the responsibility of everyone under the rights and protections afforded by the United States of America and the sacrifices of our forefathers to make these displays of honor properly.
The day we lose respect and appreciation for what we have is the day we lose what we have. This country isn’t perfect, and it has many flaws, but it is still better than any other nation or form of government out there and it is our responsibility to honor and protect that always.
(Faith, Family & Fun is a personal column by Joe Southern. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Sealy News, its staff or advertisers.)