Re: Why burn a flag??????
RYAN KEIL (RYAN.KEIL@M.CC.UTAH.EDU)
Sat, 17 Jun 1995 22:17:36 -0600
On Sat, 17 Jun 1995, Jeff L. Glaze wrote:
> Regarding your question of why we would burn the flag. When the National
> flag of the United States is no longer servicable, i.e., tattered, faded
> or in generally shoddy condition; it is considered disrepectful to
> display that flag in public. Therefore, according to the Flag Code of
> the US (others have posted excerpts here) proper disposal must be carried
The point, as Jeff above [and also later in his post] points out is that
the disposition of US Flag that is no longer fit for public display be an
honorable one. Additionally, Congress has never definitively specified
either what makes the Flag unfit for public display, or what constitutes
an honorable disposition, although burning is explicitly recommended.
Such a disposition honors the fabric that has served as a Flag, and
honors that for which the Flag stands. It prevents the fabric that has
so served from being later used in a manner that defiles or demeans the
nations for which it was an emblem.
Finally, there are occassions when a flag has become "unfit" for public
display in the normal sense. That is, the flag is no longer presentable
as a general presentation; however, circumstances may dictate that the
flag is well-suited for specific presentation. This is usually the
case of flags that served in battle: The Gettysburg Flag, the Fort
Sumter Flag, the Iwo Jima Flag(s), the USS Arizona Flag, etc. There are
hundreds, perhaps thousands of unserviceable flags on display in museums,
but these serve a specific mission and purpose in that they help to
illustrate, more than do just the color red, the blood of our comrades
who have died to preserve our ideals; or than does the blue to signify
loyalty; or than does the white to proclaim the purity of these ideals.
When such a display is the final disposition of an unserviceable flag,
then the intent of the Congress expressed in the Flag Code has been served.
As to the matter of "public" or "private" ceremony, perhaps Kant's
understanding of 'public' and 'private' apply. 'Private' is that which
conveys a specific, controlled idea or message, while 'Public' is that
which is counter to a specific, controlled idea or message. A ceremony
attended by many is private when those who are participants have a
common, unified, intent which he/she/they convey to those who observe.
It becomes public, per Kant, when anyone can attend AND can convey
his/her/their message even if it is other than, or opposed to the intent
of the ceremony. Just a thought, FWIW.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City