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As Memorial Day nears, many of us will be flying Old Glory in honor of those who gave their all for the freedoms we enjoy today. Flying the red, white, and blue comes with the responsibility and respect our American Flag deserves.

At my house on Abilene's south side, you'll see Old Glory flying high above the military branch flags that represent the different branches of the military our family members were serving at the time. Remember, there are federal laws that govern how and when the Stars and Stripes can be flown.

I've noticed several businesses in Abilene flying the flag 24/7-365. Some of these are in violation of flag laws and lack proper flag etiquette. Most people don't even know they're in violation.

The section of the law that deals with American Flag etiquette are the Flag Codes. The basic Flag Code guidelines are what I noticed as being done wrong.

The most obvious is flying Old Glory at night without illumination, and flags that are faded, tattered, and torn. Then there are those that hung American and Texas flags as decorations and have moved out abandoning the flags.

Here are some of the guidelines set forth by the American Flag Code:

  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
  • The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. (If you have a flag that needs to be destroyed contact our local Texas Trails Council of Scouting. The local boy scout chapter practices the honorable way to dispose of a flag.)
    source: USA.Gov/Flag

Thank you to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and courageously gave their lives. Every time you see Old Glory Flying, let us always remember our heroes.

Tom Pennington, Getty Images
Tom Pennington, Getty Images
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