Remember the flag this Fourth of July

By Staff
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest Columnist
As we celebrate the 231st anniversary of our great nation, it is important to remember that Independence Day is much more than fireworks, parades, or an excuse for a vacation. The Fourth of July is about celebrating the birth of our nation and all of the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans.
There is no doubt that our nation is blessed. We enjoy more rights and liberties than any other country on earth. The right to worship as we choose, the ability to elect our own leaders, and the option to criticize our government when necessary, are just some of the freedoms that make America great. They are what separate us from much of the rest of the world.
From the Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights, the idea of a free society has been the backbone of our nation and has remained an integral part of our way of life. Freedom is a common thread that binds us together as Americans. No symbol better illustrates our freedoms than the American flag. Since our nation's inception, our flag has played a vital role in the history of our great nation. It's served as a symbol of new beginnings for millions of immigrants, provided inspiration for countless numbers of our troops, and given hope to millions of citizens in our darkest hours of despair.
The Congress of the United States, by joint resolution, enacted the Federal Flag Code setting forth the protocols to be observed when displaying the flag. The language of the federal code makes it clear that the flag is a living symbol but, like all living things, the flag can eventually begin to show its age.
Years of flying in the sun, wind, and rain can render an old flag faded, tattered, torn, or frayed.
However, many may not know the proper method of disposing of an old flag while ensuring that the proper respect and dignity are shown to this great symbol. The U.S. Flag Code provides that "the flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." It is kind of a ceremony in itself, a type of cremation.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars recommend these steps for properly destroying a flag: The flag should be folded in its customary manner. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag. Place the flag on the fire.
Those participating can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
However, if you cannot burn and bury the flag yourself, there are several organizations that will retire your flag in a proper and respectful ceremony. Among them are the VFW, the American Legion, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Marine Corps League. Contact one of the organizations above and they will be able to direct you to a local post, troop or location near you.
Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." What this means for us is that we can never take our rights and freedoms for granted.
What better way is there to show our appreciation for our freedoms than by proudly flying our flag and disposing of it properly when it is no longer serviceable.
This Fourth of July, as you enjoy a day off, a trip, or a simple cookout, take a few minutes to remember "Old Glory" and all the freedoms that it stands for.

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