You've finally pushed me to do the research I've been promising myself I would do for years ever since I learned about reverence for our flag, Old Glory, as a Boy Scout in my small West Virginia town.
I've done the research and what passes these days for one type of patriotism, of respect for America and one of its greatest institutions isn't that at all; and worse, it's illegal.
I know this will come as a shock to 99.44% of you because we have let our country drift from not only the law but from what Patriotism and Tradition used to mean.
Case in point, Katy Perry's wearing of the American flag, both on stage in a very bad network telecast on July Fourth and in the pages of numerous newspapers last week.
Here's what the Flag Code says: Title 4, U-S Code, as listed in a report to Congress in April, 2008. Under Section 8 Respect for the Flag, part D.."The flag should never be used as wearing apparel..." (There's more, but did you see that kid wearing nothing but a U-S flag as his bathing suit on the beach in several weekend newscasts?)
Part J ..."No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform." (There's an exemption for flag patches by police / fire, etc..and I suspect for our Olympic team. The President is given the authority to make changes. There's another exemption for flag pins...."being replicas..should be worn on the left lapel near the heart." This because Old Glory is considered a living thing.)
And, oh yeah, those cute little plates and napkins you used at your 4th picnic..strictly illegal. Part J again: "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever."...and.."it should not be printed on paper napkins..or anything designed for temporary use or discard."
For years many of us have felt at our patriotic best when we (over) displayed the flag and (often illegally) displayed it. There's a right way and a wrong way to revere our flag and frankly, many of us don't know the differences. That is what the Flag Code in Title 4 is all about..and as a law, it is very clear and very easy to follow...and by and large, many of us haven't been doing it..including a lot of "patriotic organizations" and governmental units.
We and they are not less patriotic; we and they just got carried away some years back by the feeling if a little flag waving was good, then a lot of flag waving was better..without really paying close attention as to the specifics of the Flag Code which has been there all along to help us.
Now you know--and of course there's more we should be following, and for a legal document the code is remarkably short and very clear.
As for that holiday TV spot showing George Washington and Abe Lincoln dancing around a certain furniture chain's "bargains"..that's probably not illegal (as Katy Perry most certainly is)..it is just plain stupid!
I'm just sayin'...