28 June 2010

Respect towards the Flag

Few countries revere their flag as much as the United States. This could be because the United States’ flag is designed such that each part of the flag is so closely associated with the country’s history and depicts so well the struggle of this land to become a nation. The fifty stars on the flag represent the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the original thirteen colonies that rebelled against the British monarchy and became the first states in the Union. 

The United States has a Flag Code. This code incorporates a set of laws relating to how the flag should be handled, folded, when it should be displayed and during what times of the day. The flag code also lists how the flag should be taken care and disposed of. 

In my opinion proof of the United States’ respect towards its flag lies in the rules on how the flag should be disposed of.  The flag code states that “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”. Veteran service organisations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans as well as the Boy and Girl Scouts offer free flag disposal services. Those who wish to dispose of the flag themselves should burn the flag in a dignified manner and should bury the ashes. On the Internet one can find ceremonial scripts one could follow to dispose of the flag honourably. 

Flags made of nylon and other synthetic materials should not be burned since these can create hazardous gases when they are burned. A good alternative to dispose of synthetic flags is recycling. To recycle a flag, simply write "Recycle" on the header of the flag before handing it over to one of the organisations mentioned above. 

All nations have a flag; for some the flag is seen to be a living emblem of their country, for others it is just a piece of cloth marking territory or a ceremonial object.

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