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The Mabley Archive Don't let disrespect rain on your 4th of July parade.

Byline: Jack Mabley July 4, 2001 Glenview's own

Independence Day the Fourth of July. The American flag is about to take abuse and disrespect as never before.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but ...

* The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff.

* The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat.

* The flag should never be used as wearing apparel.

* The flag should never be used for advertising purposes, in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discarded.

* No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations.

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

¦ ¦ ¦

The Flag Code is in Title 36, U.S.C. Ch. 10, as amended by P.L. 122, 103d Congress, approved Sept. 13, 1994.

"If there is a way to use and sell objects displaying the flag, they sure haven't missed it," was the reaction of Larry Pahl of Schaumburg after he visited a major department store.

"There are not only clothing items with flags all over them, but such thoughtless uses as sandals with the flag to be walked on ... beach towels to place on the ground and laid on.

"There are shorts and pants with flags in places to be sat on.

"In other stores I've seen paper napkins, plates, cups and table covers to be used and thrown away with the trash."

I saw a stars and stripes bra in one store. Also on underwear in the same store. In a cable movie Sunday night a woman was wearing a stars and stripes bikini, stars up, stripes lower.

A full-page ad for Eddie Murphy's newest movie shows him with a half-page size American flag in the background.

I asked Pahl about the source of his concern for the flag. He learned it in grade school, in the Boy Scouts, and in the Army in the 60s.

Pahl wrote the store and received a reply that "we regret that you were offended by our Stars and Stripes Program and we certainly never intended this result. ... Please be assured that we honor and respect our flag and would not want to disrespect it in any way."

That attitude is symptomatic of the problem of disrespect for the flag. The ad copywriters, probably young, sincerely wanted to mount a patriotic campaign.

But they didn't have a clue that there is a Flag Code that clearly defines what is acceptable and what is not.

The code isn't hard to find. I got my nine-page copy from the internet by using and searching for "American Flag Code."

The American Legion distributes copies, and leads what has become a fruitless fight for respect for the flag.

So today the beaches and parks will be jammed with people with flags over their pot bellies, drinking from flag cups, wiping their mouths with flag napkins.

Countless thousands along parade routes will disrespect rather than respect the flag.

They mean well. But they don't know.

Certainly there will be some floats and vehicles and marchers correctly displaying the flag. That basically means a free hanging or flying flag on a staff or halyard, or held by hand.

We can learn from our children. In every parade route there will be boys and girls waving American flags. They will be tiny, and correctly displayed on a small staff.

The kids may even know why July 4th is called Independence Day.
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Author:Jack Mabley July 4, 2001 Glenview's own
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jul 1, 2021
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