About the Colony

Mistreated flags demand attention

I love seeing the American flag flapping in the breeze.

It generally makes me feel good, unless the proper flag etiquette isn’t being followed.

Over the past several months I’ve had half a dozen friends say I should write something about flag etiquette. As the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed more and more examples of shabby treatment of the national ensign. What I’ve seen has included not only private homes, but some businesses as well.

The most flagrant violation seems to be the flags that stay up overnight without being lighted. The second is when a flag is worn and torn to shreds by the wind but left hanging. The proper way to dispose of a worn flag is to destroy it by burning it in a dignified manner. I know the local Cub and Boy Scouts participate in an annual flag-burning ceremony hosted by the Atascadero Elks Club.

I’ve noticed many flags flying in the heaviest of rainfall that came down last month.

For those who like to fly the flag 24 hours a day throughout the year, they should know that the flag should not only be properly illuminated during the night, but also taken in during nasty wet weather. I think a wet flag hanging in the pouring rain bothers me the most.

The U.S. flag should always fly higher than any other flags next to it. The only exception I found in this rule is that the church pennant may be flown higher than the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Navy chaplain on a ship at sea.

I corrected one infraction last week when I worked my shift at the Atascadero Historical Society’s Colony House Museum.

We always put out the U.S. flag and California flag on those days when the museum is open to the public.When I ran out to my car to get something and turned back to the house, I noticed the American flag and our state flag were being displayed at the same height.

Fortunately, I had my power drill in the car, and so I lowered the bracket of the California flag and then lengthened the staff holding the U.S. flag to make it higher.

In addition, I had to cut the metal flag staff holding the state flag down about a foot to make the difference in height more proper for the two banners.

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. His column appears on the Local page every Tuesday. He can be reached at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.