Do You Know Proper Flag Etiquette?

United We Stand; Divided We Fall

A lot of tweets, Facebook posts, and memes have been flying back and forth regarding the controversy over the NFL teams kneeling, linking arms, or staying in the locker rooms during the national anthem. It appears this might even filter down to the colleges and high schools. But if you ask the average citizen what is proper flag etiquette, I bet few people know.

I thought I knew the answers, after all I was a Girl Scout, until I decided to do some research. Even the most self-righteous of those weighing in on the kneeling controversy probably have broken some of the flag codes. Why, even our own president is at fault. He has been photographed standing during the national anthem but not putting his hand over his heart. The first lady, an immigrant, had to remind him to do this.

According to military.com, “Flag Ettiquette Dos and Donts,” the following should be observed:

    • All persons present in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.

    • All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

How many men stand and remove their hats and hold it with their right hands at shoulder level while placing that hand over their hearts? I have seen many people stand but continue to talk during the anthem. Men and boys sometimes must be reminded to remove their hats and many fail to face in the direction of the flag. So, while we are on the topic of the NFL and flag etiquette, many players do not place their hands over their hearts nor do they remove their helmets.

The same web site goes on to list many more Do’s and Don’ts but some of the most commonly violated which I have observed are:

  • Don’t let the flag touch the ground.
  • Don’t fly the flag upside down unless there is an emergency.
  • Don’t store the flag where it can get dirty.
  • Don’t use the flag as decoration.

Traditionally, the flag should be displayed only from sunrise to sundown and if it is left up after sunset it should be illuminated. I have seen many flags flown from houses and not taken down at sunset or during inclement weather. I have also seen flags drooping to the ground or rolled up and stuffed in the corner of the porch when not in use; all of which is a, “No, no.”

I once rescued a flag from the trash. It had been wadded up and thrown to the curb along with the other trash. I took it to the fire department which routinely ceremoniously burns flags according to the flag code.

The web site USA.gov, The American Flag and Its Protocol, states that the flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty to which Americans pledge their allegiance by standing at attention and facing the flag with their right hand over the heart.

The most interesting and insightful web site which I found is Senate.gov, CRS Report for Congress. The CRS is the Congressional Research Service and its report can be summed up in the first paragraph.

                No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America.

The most interesting statement of the 17 page report is:

Thus, the Flag Code does not prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement provisions; rather the Code functions simply as a guide to be voluntarily followed by civilians and civilian groups.

Yes, there are no laws and therefore no punishments for failing to follow protocol. Therefore, the teams have the freedom to do as they wish. This is called freedom of speech and freedom of expression which is what this country was founded on. This means that if one wants to kneel rather than the standard traditional salute we have the freedom to do so.

This movement began as a peaceful way of bringing attention to the racial inequalities in this country. There are many forms of protest which are much more disrespectful but kneeling is a sign of respect. We kneel at church and in prayer so why not kneel during the anthem?

When players are injured on the field the teams will take a knee, which is a way of showing respect for the injured player. Considering this country’s current state of affairs, you might say that taking a knee is showing respect for the flag and the country for which it stands, just in a different way.

This country is facing many serious problems, most much more important than what the NFL does during the national anthem. Experts say we are the closet to nuclear war than we have ever been. The states and the American territory of Puerto Rico devastated by the recent hurricanes are facing billions of dollars and years of rebuilding. And, as if this isn’t enough, the Russians are quietly laughing at us as they create chaos within our government.

Before we begin throwing stones let us look inward and analyze our own actions measured against the Federal Flag Code. We shouldn’t let this dog whistle divide us but, rather, let us link arms in the brotherhood of humanity. In 1986 Hands Across America was held to raise money for the homeless in which a human chain was formed reaching from one coast to another. Why not a link chain stretching across the country where people of all races, religions and countries of origin can stand shoulder to shoulder, linked arm in arm. A way of showing our strength and commitment to what this country has always stood for—liberty and justice for ALL.

Remember: United we stand; divided we fall.

 

 

There are many other Do’s and Don’ts besides those I have discussed. For those wanting more information I recommend the following sites:

https://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf

https://www.usa.gov/flag

https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/flagdisplay.pdf

http://www.military.com/flag-day/flag-ettiquette-dos-and-donts.html

 

The Free Press Versus Fake News: Should We Be Worried?

Several times over the past year I have posted something on Facebook and someone replied, “Fake news.” We are hearing this term more and more every day and this seems to be Trump’s favorite phrase.

Although the term may be new, the intent behind it isn’t. There has been an on-going effort by the Communist party to undermine our society by creating doubts, distrust in authority, and chaos to make it easier for them to then take control. It was all spelled out in a file titled Communist Rules for Revolution published in 1919 and obtained by our armed forces in Dusseldorf, Germany. Here are the instructions issued to those who would bring about revolution:

  1. Corrupt the young, get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex. Make them superficial, destroy their ruggedness.
  2. Get control of all means of publicity and thereby:
  3. Get people’s minds off their government by focusing attention on athletics, sexy books and plays, and other trivialitie[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]

    s.

  4. Divide the people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
  5. Destroy the people’s faith in their natural leaders by holding the latter up to contempt, ridicule and obloguy (strong public criticism or verbal abuse).
  6. Always preach true democracy but seize power as fast and ruthlessly as possible.
  7. By encouraging government extravagance, destroy its credit, produce fear of inflation with rising prices and general discontent.
  8. Foment unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil disorders, and foster a lenient and soft attitude on the part of government toward such disorders.
  9. By spacious argument cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues: honesty, sobriety, faith in the pledged word, ruggedness.
  10. Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext with the view of confiscation of them and leaving the population helpless.

Although this was published nearly a hundred years ago, it is very current today. Each point has been endlessly discussed in social circles and on cable news. We see examples of these points happening everyday but the one I’m most concerned about is item #2—get control of all means of publicity. Coming from a journalistic background I know words are important. What we say and how we say it can influence people’s minds and opinions. To quote an old saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

It has now been revealed that during the election cycle people were making up fantastic stories and publishing them on the web. I will call these people word factories because that is what they were. They were mindlessly putting together a string of words and making up ridiculous stories to bash a particular candidate or party. What this has done is create a great mistrust in all media. We don’t know what is the truth and what came from the word factories—or—fake news. Therefore, since we can’t trust the media we don’t know if what was reported about a political figure is true or not.

Or, at least, that is the plan from various nefarious groups. How can we combat this trend and defeat the perpetrators? By educating ourselves.

Don’t believe the lies being spread that reporters and news organizations are evil, nasty, bad guys. Being a reporter is a difficult job. Reporters do what their name implies, they report the news, they don’t manufacture it. Reputable reporters and news organizations dig, and dig, and dig to find the facts. Many times, public figures don’t want the facts, or whole truth, out for one reason or another. After the reporter writes the news story it goes to an editor who double and sometimes triple checks the facts. This is why government and public officials are wary of reporters. They know they can’t hide the truth from them. This is why reporters aren’t the most popular people in the room.

So how do we, the consumer, know if our news source is reliable or not? First check the source or news organization reporting it. If it comes from Joe Blow News then disregard immediately. If it comes from a known source such as Reuters, AP (Associated Press), a network news station or cable station such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. then it is fairly safe; but, beware that there might be a left or right slant to the presentation.

The current president and attorney general are even threatening to begin jailing reporters and loosening the libel laws. This is a very dangerous move. The initiative comes about because reporters are doing stories on information the administration does not want out and the reporters won’t reveal their sources.

Reporters never reveal their sources. Reporters give their word to protect their sources and many have gone to prison rather than renege on that promise. If they are hit with a libel suit the defense for libel is truth. If it can be proven in court that the information revealed in the reporter’s story is true that is all the defense needed.

The press is the watch dog over our three branches of government, that is why it is called The Fourth Estate. To protect this unofficial fourth leg of the foundation of our society, our founding fathers established the first amendment to the Constitution under the Bill of Rights—Freedom of the Press.

Now that there are attacks to this freedom we must be vigilante and educated and support the work the responsible news services are giving us. Let us respect, honor, and thank these hard-working people rather than ridicule them. What the public doesn’t see is that members of the press know their responsibilities. Along with freedom of the press comes responsibilities and reliability. Good reporters know this and constantly strive to report the news fairly and accurately.

If you think these discussions are new, this blog post is based on a newspaper clipping dated May 1, 1970. It begins:

                If you think most of the problems that beset the world and our nation today just happened that way; if you think it is a natural trend born of the modern age; if you think that it will suddenly all dissolve when we, the people, get tired of being bothered, then read an excerpt from a file on Communist Rules for Revolution….these were the instructions issued to those who were to bring about world revolution.

Yes, this was 47 years ago; before cell phones, computers, HDTV, fitbits, iPads, etc. The modern age of 47 years ago was just as worried about world affairs as we are today. The Communist Rules for Revolution was written in 1919 as instructions for those who were to bring about world revolution. The newspaper article ends with words that are just as relevant today as they were in 1970:

                Just fifty-one years later those who were given the plan of attack can check full 100 per cent success in their efforts. We are sure there is now another such set of instructions, going on from where these left off. This time past history presents full reason to be concerned, if not completely frightened. Your enemies are patient but thorough. Your greatest enemy, however is your disregard of the danger signs.

Here is a list of generally accepted top reliable news sources. The Associated Press is viewed as the most trustworthy:

BBC

C-SPAN

New York Times

NPR

Reuters

Snopes

The Associated Press

The Economist

Wall Street Journal

 

If you didn’t find your favorite news source there, here is another compiled by compiled by Business Insider in 2014 from the most trusted to the least:

 

THE ECONOMIST

BBC

NPR

PBS

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

ABC NEWS

CBS NEWS

NBC NEWS

CNN

USA TODAY

GOOGLE NEWS

THE BLAZE

THE NEW YORK TIMES

THE WASHINGTON POST

MSNBC

THE GUARDIAN

BLOOMBERG

THE NEW YORKER

POLITICO

YAHOO NEWS

FOX NEWS

MOTHER JONES

SLATE

BREITBART

THE HUFFINGTON POST

THE COLBERT REPORT

THINK PROGRESS

THE DAILY SHOW

DRUDGE REPORT

DAILY KOS

THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW

AL JAZEERA AMERICA

THE ED SCHULTS SHOW

THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW

BUZZFEED