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February 5, 2002

After several weeks of anxious waiting, my new 3’x 5’ tangle-free U.S. flag arrived in the mail the other day and now, with the completion of “minor assembly” and installation of the flag pole, it is ready to be unfurled. I can hardly wait for that momentous occasion.

I was pleased to notice on the information sheet accompanying the set that it was “proudly made in the U.S.A.” If it had been made anywhere else it would have been promptly returned to the sender and the search for an American-made banner would have been resumed.

U.S. flags this size are scarce right now because more people want to fly them as part of the wave of patriotism that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks last year. In my case, the new flag is a nylon replacement for an aging cotton flag that pretty well ripped itself apart on a roof gutter over a period of several years. The new one swivels in the wind and is supposed to be nearly impervious to that kind of self-destruction. We’ll see about that.

You might be interested in the “flag etiquette” brochure that came with my new flag. It begins by stating that ANY day is appropriate for flying the flag, but any legal or public holiday is OK. (Technically, the U.S. has no national holidays, since each state makes its own decision on that matter.) The next legal holiday in Oklahoma falls on February 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Then comes February 18, which is designated as “Presidents’ Day,” combining George Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday into a single celebration.

Here’s a summary of when and where to display the flag. On buildings and stationary flagpoles outdoors, the flag should be displayed only from sunrise to sunset. It should not be displayed at all during stormy or rainy weather, unless for some very special reason. (Some years ago, I was told that the U.S. flag could be flown at night if it were properly lighted. Has that changed?) In no case should the flag ever touch the ground. It should be raised with hearty briskness and when lowered it should be done solemnly and slowly.

The blue field with the stars in the flag should be at the peak of a staff extending from the building front, balcony or window, and next to a pole when extended from a house to a pole at the edge of sidewalk or suspended by a rope. (These tips presumably were written by an American, but I’m not sure the preceding makes sense.)

We’ll continue this summary of flag etiquette at another date, if you are still interested. Meantime, let’s see more U.S. flags proudly waving from homes and businesses every day, not just on special occasions.