The Florida Army National Guard Honor Guard Team appears at more than 5,000 funerals each year. They raise, lower, fold and fly the American flag day after day. They know Old Glory pretty well.
"This is what we do, and we take it very seriously," says SFC Eugene Jones, the team's coordinator. But traveling to and from events, he sees many flags that aren't displayed or cared for properly.
"You see businesses improperly displaying the flag, either up at night without illumination or hanging tattered from a pole," he says.
Often, he or a team member will ask the business owner to correct their use of the flag, or even offer to help the person find a new flag.
KNOW THE RULES
There are many traditions, rules and even laws that tell us how to handle and display the flag properly.
"The flag's not to be used as a conveyance -- that is, you can't carry something placed on a flag," Jones said. "And, the flag is not to be used as clothing."
Rules and traditions also provide that the American flag should have no flag displayed or flown above it. It should never be flown upside down, except as a signal of life-threatening distress. When it's marched with another flag, the Stars and Stripes must be on the right. The list of flag rules is long.
WHO'S BURNING THE FLAG?
Under some circumstances, the burning of the American flag should make us angry. But, when weathered and worn flags are retired, there's a solemn ceremony where the flag is cut in a prescribed way and the pieces are put into a fire. The Boy Scouts of America is one organization that holds such ceremonies. Recently, members of Troop 222 held a flag retirement ceremony.
"It's a great honor to do this," says Boy Scout Sam Sawney.
A dozen scouts left the ceremony with an even greater respect for the American flag.
LINK: U.S Flag Code: http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf