A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

Stars and stripes

Jun 14, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

It's Flag Day, and there's a right way to observe it

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States. Travelers through Riverton will notice the handsome array of flags along the entire stretch of Main Street from City Park to College View Drive. In recent years the flag display has been extended to points along Federal Boulevard and a few other blocks in town. Local veterans cooperate in the effort, and they welcome help from other volunteers.

Many private citizens and businesses fly the flag today as well. Some do it every day.

June 14 stands out in the history of Old Glory because that is the date, in 1777, that the Continental Congress officially adopted the stars-and-stripes design as the official American flag. In an odd coincidence, June 14 also is the date, in 1943, that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to salute the flag.

The national observance of Flag Day dates to the administration of President Harry Truman, who proclaimed the first Flag Day in 1949. It's been an annual June 14 observance ever since. And on June 14, 1954, the words "under God" were ordered added to the Pledge of Allegiance by President Dwight Eisenhower.

Flying the flag is a fun and easy way to enhance national unity and patriotism across political, religious, economic and social differences.

You might not realize it, but there's a right way and a wrong way to fly the flag. In fact, it's part of U.S. law -- U.S. Code Title 36, Chapter 10, to be exact.

Here are a few flag pointers:

- If the American flag is flown with other flags (states, localities, organizations), it always should be at the center and highest point of the grouping.

- Attaching a flag to your vehicle? The staff should be attached to the right front fender (closer to the bumper or windshield is up to you).

- If the flag is to be displayed from a horizontal line, over a street or meeting room, for example, it should be suspended vertically with the union (the stars) to the north in an east-west street or to the east in a north-south street. The same goes for a large meeting hall, depending on its directional orientation.

- A flag pin should be worn on the left side of the body, near the heart. Think of the left-side lapel on a suit coat.

- If the flag is to be hung against a wall (such as hanging it above a door or flat outside a window), the union should be to the flag's right, or to the observer's left side.

- Don't write on the flag, and don't use it for anything other than a patriotic display.

There are numerous other stipulations about displaying and handling the flag incorporated into U.S. law, but these are the basics for most people if a standard flagpole or wall-mounted pole bracket isn't available.

This is a free country, and the police won't come knocking at your door if you don't fly the flag, or if you don't fly it according to custom and code, but doing it the right way adds to its significance and meaning.

Fly the flag, and have fun doing it.

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