The American flag isn't just some material colored red, white, and blue tied to a stick. I'm no flag waver in any sense of the word but I do care about how our flag is treated. So should others and especially the United States Post Office if for no other reason that it is charged by The Flag Code to treat 'Old Glory' with legal and formal respect.
The 'What' Code?
Previous to Flag Day, June 14, 1923 there were no federal or state regulations governing display of the United States Flag. It was on this date that the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference which was attended by representatives of the Army and Navy which had evolved their own procedures, and some 66 other national groups. This purpose of providing guidance based on the Army and Navy procedures relating to display and associated questions about the U. S. Flag was adopted by all organizations in attendance. Each state is charged with enforcing these codes.
Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. The section of law dealing with American Flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Here are some general guidelines from that 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.Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't an article about flag etiquette since some of that information was necessary if the following is to have any meaning.
The other day we went to the a branch of the Glendale Post Office to mail a letter. Seemed simple enough. It was. But when we started to drive away, we saw the flag pictured above. It screamed urgency to us. We went inside and informed the clerk that the flag was upside down. The clerk assured us that supervisor would be immediately notified. Almost two hours later we drove by to check on the flag and it was still upside down.
There are only two possibilities to explain this situation:
The supervisor at the Post Office branch and the clerk and all others within hearing distance either don't care about the flag or don't know why it shouldn't be flown upside down.
Or, probably the most likely explanation, inside the Post Office branch was a hostage situation and one person of the company of the hostages was allowed to raise the flag because (since it was an early morning hostage situation) not raising it would attract too much attention. The flag raising person knew all about flag etiquette, flew the flag upside down knowing that the first person to see it would call the police and everyone would be saved. Little did that person think that no one would notice until early afternoon and then simply use it as one more reason to complain about the Post Office.
And so that's why it's important to know flag etiquette.