Re: Flags & patriotism
Ed Darrell (EDarr1776@AOL.COM)
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:33:26 -0400
Acknowledging discussion before, I address the issue of how to instill pride
and reverence for the U.S. flag.
The answer is simple and difficult: Model the way. Do it yourself:
1. The flag code (available on-line and other places) lists more than two
dozen dates on which your flag should fly at your home. Fly the flag those
days and ask your neighbors to do the same.
2. Salute the flag properly when it is presented. Be the first to stand and
salute when you see the colors moving into the room. When I used to report
on conventions and other gatherings where flags were posted in front of
civilians, it always amazed me that so few people stood for the presentation.
I've found that, as an audience member, I can have powerful influence if I
simply stand quickly and salute. In Scout audiences, usually an old Eagle
will say "Scouts, salute!" They do it unconsciously. When this happens, the
entire audience rises quickly. It is impressive.
This also means you will grow tired at most 4th of July parades. Don't let
it deter you.
3. When you participate in a flag raising ceremony, practice it to get it
down perfectly. Do it right. Colors rise quickly; colors retreat slowly.
Half-mast displays are done after the colors rise all the way. Get one of
your musically inclined kids to learn "To the colors" and "Retreat"
perfectly, and fast.
4. When you participate in a flag posting ceremony, rehearse it before hand
to get it down perfectly. Do it right. Have the colormaster know his/her
lines perfectly and say them loudly. You will be amazed at how an audience
bends to the will of an enthusiastic 12-year old saluting the flag.
5. Get a copy of the Scout publication "Your Flag" (my 1981 printing is No.
3188 -- is that still current?). Whenever you display or present a flag,
consult the book on the proper way to do it. Especially when you have flags
flanking a podium -- when I worked for a U.S. Senator I noted that better
than half the times flags were displayed, they wer displayed on the wrong
side of the podium. Recently as I waited for a judge to appear in court I
noted an unaccustomed display of the flag -- but on consulting my references
I learned it was done correctly (do you know what is the "point of honor?").
We can all learn, and should consult references whenever there are
6. Whenever you say the Pledge of Allegiance, say it loud, with alacrity
(and my personal bias: Don't pause after "flag" but say it in phrases).
7. To help kids learn proper flag etiquette, make it fun and meaningful.
Let your kids get the satisfaction that comes from being the color guard at
an American Legion meeting and getting the cheers of the Legionnaires. Let
your kids get the satisfaction of leading the parents of the PTA in showing
proper respect. Drill in your troop, post or pack.
If we all do these seven things, others will follow. It seems to me that if
we had 60 percent of American homes displaying the flag on special days
designated for it, there would be absolutely no question about an amendment
on flag desecration. There would be no need. It is sad when we must try to
enforce respect, by legislation, when that same respect is not shown
voluntarily by so many who should. Let's start the movement. If every
Scout's home flew the flag, it would be astounding. If every Vietnam veteran
flew the flag on holidays, the colors would be astounding. If every Gulf War
vet joined in, you would hear about a "rise of patriotism" in America. If
the vets of Korea joined in, it would be the biggest movement in America. If
the surviving WWII vets joined, the space shuttle would be able to see the
color change from orbit!
Well, we can hope . . .
Ed Darrell, Duncanville, Texas
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City