Display Old Glory Properly


by Charlene Hunt

roundup staff reporter

The American Flag can be seen flying in Payson everywhere you look, from car antennas to rooftops.

I have never displayed a flag at my house. It's not that I did not have one to display. Sixteen years ago while working as a reporter at the Payson Roundup, I was on a first-name basis with Congressman John McCain. This relationship had been developed over several years through political contacts.

At one point, I asked the Congressman if he could get a flag for me that had been flown over the United States Capitol. In September 1986, I received that flag with its accompanying certification that it had been flown for me Sept. 20, 1986 over the Capital building in Washington, D.C.

For 16 years, that flag has remained untouched in its box. That is until Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

My husband and I unfurled the flag and stood contemplating where to hang it. There was not a flag pole to be found in Payson so we chose to drape it off the roof of our home. I even purchased a spotlight as I knew the flag was only to be flown at night if lit.

I was so proud of our display, it was my way of showing my support for my country and those who had perished Sept. 11.

It was not until my daughters showed up to visit that I found out there was more to flying a flag than merely hanging it from the roof. I was chastised as they immediately told me it was hanging backwards. As one climbed up the ladder on the roof to correct my error, the other suggested I read a pamphlet on how to properly display the American flag.

Here's what I learned.

It is the universal custom to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, a flag may be displayed 24 hours a day, if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when it is an all-weather flag.

The flag shall not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle. When a flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

When a flag is displayed vertically in a window, or horizontally, the field of stars should be in the upper left to the observer in the street.

If the flag is to be displayed over the middle of the street it should be suspended vertically with the field of stars to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag shall again be raised to its peak before it is lowered for the day.

These hints on how to properly display your America flag are not meant to discourage you from doing so.

"The fact they have the flag up is the most important thing," Payson Flag Committee Chairperson Lee Pretsch said. "Afterall, Payson is the flag capital of Arizona and I would like us to set the example. It is my desire that we show our patriotism all the time."

Anyone who has tried to purchase a flag in Payson over the last few days has come up short. However, as of Monday, Sept. 17, Pretsch had approximately one dozen gently used flags, 3x5 with poles for sale at $10 each. Pretsch said the flags are in excellent condition having been flown only on special occasions. Pretsch can be contacted at 474-2170.

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