On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress determined that the stars and stripes would be on the flag that represented the United States of America and in 1914, Flag Day was established.
Flag Day is set aside to acknowledge the symbolism of our flag and encourages Americans to take a moment to look at it differently. The Tinker Take Off spoke with three first term Airmen at Tinker Air Force Base about how their view of the American flag has changed since they enlisted in the Air Force.
Airman 1st Class Bethany Mayfield, 72nd Air Base Wing Security Forces:
“What the flag means to me is, I feel like it’s a symbol of our nation and I feel like when people see it they should know what the stars and stripes mean. It really laid a foundation in the very beginning about what our nation stands for and what it really means to be an American.”
Airman 1st Class Kevin (Xavier) Webster, 552nd Operational Support Squadron:
“All the flag means to me now is me protecting my family and my friends and knowing that what I’m doing is making a difference. I’ve never really been a political person, but that’s how it feels to me now. I just think about how what I’m doing is keeping my mom, and my friends and my family safe.”
Airman 1st Class Mason Minnick, 552nd Operational Support Squadron:
“Since enlisting, it’s a symbol of good people. Good people, good intentions regardless of execution. I think it stands for solidarity, freedom and just doing the right thing, which I think are the main core American values that people try to drive home.”
Honoring the Stars and Stripes
Federal Flag Code, Public Law 94-344, contains the rules for how to handle and display the U.S. flag. In honor of Flag Day, here’s a reminder on how to properly display, as well as retire, the flag.
(Information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Annin Flags)
DISPLAYING THE FLAG:
The flag should only be displayed in public from sunrise to sunset unless it’s illuminated during darkness.
The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms (unless it’s an all-weather flag).
The flag should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.
The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days.
The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
The flag should never be draped or drawn back in folds.
The flag may be flown at half-staff to honor a newly deceased federal or state government official by order of the president or the governor, respectively.
On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon
Never dip the flag for any person or thing
Never display the flag with the union down, except as a signal of distress.
Never let the flag touch anything beneath it
Never fasten or display the flag in a way that could permit it to be damaged.
Never place anything on the flag including designs or insignias of any kind.
Never use the flag as costume, apparel, bedding or for advertising or promotional purposes.
During the hoisting or lowering of the flag or when it passes in parade view, Americans should stand at attention, facing the flag and place their right hand over their heart. Uniformed military members render the military salute. Military members not in uniform should remove any headdress and hold it with their right hand at their left shoulder with their hand resting over their heart.
PROPER FLAG RETIREMENT:
“The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
The flag should be retired in private at a non-public location and the ceremony should be a solemn dignified event.
You may cut the flag into smaller pieces before placing them on the fire, but when doing so keep the union of blue intact as a symbol that the unity of our nation should never be broken.
Another option for flag retirement is to separate the blue star field from the stripes and then to separate the stripes from each other and the pieces may be respectfully interred.