Too Much of a Good Thing

~ Written by Diane Bernhard ~

As the Standard Bearer for my Girl Scout Troop — oh so many years ago — I learned that there were several things that had to be done to show proper respect for the United States Flag. Some of the most emphasized regulations concerned the proper raising and lowering of the Flag and the proper folding of the Flag for overnight storing. Recently, I checked websites online to see if memory still served and I found several things that I think we need to consider.

Image Courtesy of Liz Detter

The United States Flag Code, signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 22, 1942 states: “When a Flag is lowered no part of it should touch the ground or any other object. It should be received by waiting hands and arms. In order to store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.” I wonder how many hands and arms will be needed to lower a flag the size — 30′ by 60′ — proposed by Earl Stuart Toyota and where will they come from?

APEX Flag Company, a well-known manufacturer of flags and banners states: “When you get into a flag of this size it is a ton to handle.” The site suggests that the flag be kept up permanently and suggests the purchase of three flags to be used in rotation so that no flag is subjected to undue stress. That still means that the flag must be lowed sometimes – for rotation, cleaning, repairs and severe storms — and thus still presents the problem of which and how many people will be required to receive the flag. And where will they stand — amongst the parked cars, in the street, or in the park?

Image courtesy of Liz Detter

Section 6a reads: “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

The website ehow.com offers instructions on “How to light a Flag on a Flag Pole”. They recommend a 50 watt halogen solar spotlight to light the flag on a 15 to 30 foot flagpole. The bulb should be placed on the ground and directed towards the pole just below the flag. The light source should be located at a distance of ½ half the height of the flagpole. Under “Tips and warnings” — “If the flagpole is 50 feet or higher a larger spotlight is recommended for lighting a flag at that height.” I wonder how many bulbs and at what strength it will take to light a 30′ by 60′ flag at 341 feet in the air? How will that affect the quality of life for the people who live for miles around it? Note: I know from personal experience, the snapping of a 3’ x 5’ banner in strong winds can sound like a series of gunshots. What would a 30’ x 50’ flag sound like?

Section 8 of the Federal Flag Code protects flags from commercial use: “The Flag shall never be used for advertising purposes in any matter whatsoever.” I wonder how hard it will be to resist saying, “Come see our showroom, conveniently located under the largest American Flag in the country.” Or to resist putting the Flag on dealership business cards, or to keep it out of photographs of the dealership? Or to avoid mentioning it all together? And who will police and report such violations?

I spent time in Marietta, Georgia where residents gave directions around town by saying, “I live just west (or east or north or whatever) of the big chicken” (referring to the giant wooden chicken atop the local fast-food palace). Do we, the citizens of Lake Park want our town to be defined by a private business owner’s attempts to bring prominence to his business? And remember, we’ve been lured by the siren call of having something-or-other bigger, better, fresher, more unique than anywhere else. And where did that get us?

I am a proud American citizen. I respect the flag and think it’s a beautiful representation of our rights and aspirations. But I don’t want to look towards the the heavens and have man’s artwork imposed upon my view of nature’s artwork.

Lastly, keep in mind the Toyota Dealership’s willful misrepresentation of its address. Then you must realize that ‘the Biggest American Flag in the United States” will go down in history as being located in North Palm Beach, Florida and not in Lake Park, Florida.

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References: Betsy Ross Home Page, http://www.ushistory.org
http://www.ehow.com
Legal Information Institute, http://www.law.cornell.edu
APEX Flag Company

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PS: Don’t forget tonight’s CRA Board Meeting and Regular Commission Meetings. They will be held at Town Hall beginning at 6:30.

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