This is no way to treat our flag!

When I was young, there were few things more beautiful than a clear summer day. A stunning blue sky forming a bold backdrop for our national flag, her colors so crisp and bright. Whipping in the breeze, fluttering and popping as if to shout, "Here I am, I represent your nation's hopes and dreams! I share your nation's history! I have led you to the far corners of the earth and beyond! I have led you in battle, in victory and in peace!" People respected and honored the flag then.

No one would dare fly a flag that was dirty or in disrepair for fear of what his friends and neighbors would think. Things have certainly changed!

June 14 we will celebrate Flag Day when we should remember the history, traditions and evolution of our national banner along with our country. Shortly to be followed by July 4th the recognized anniversary of this nation's birth.

It is time I shared some thoughts and ask others to speak out as well.

Many bought a fine new flag in response to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. They were so proud of it colors flying in the breeze in their front yard. In some cases it is still standing where it had been put. Many never did anything to protect their flag from the elements and now it is a sad, pitiful, dirt stained and faded bundle of rags on a stick. How can anyone still be proud of it, in its current condition?

I have seen this far too often as I would travel around East Texas. And I am sure it is not confined to our locale; it makes me both angry and sad to see this world recognized banner of the freest nation ever conceived to be so mistreated on its very own soil.

I would plead with you, retire this abused flag. If you can't or won't replace it, leave the staff empty. For it would be more honorable if there were nothing there than for it to continue in its present condition.

This banner is a very important part of our nation's history and traditions. It has flown in victory over battlefields all over the world for over two centuries, carried in the hands and protected with the blood of millions of young American patriots. In return this flag has draped the caskets of those fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice as they are laid to their final rest.

It is an indelible image marking the site of a brave, exciting experiment; a nation ruled by its own citizens. These people would be sovereign. It would be their duty and privilege to guide and protect it, to build, farm, prosper and leave their mark on it. This country has endured for well over two hundred years, and I pray at least two hundred more!

There has evolved through many years of traditions of military and civilian usage, some far older than our county itself, a proper and respectful manner in which to display and honor our national banner. It has been written into a national flag code which defines how, where, and when to properly display and care for the flag, how to show it the respect due.

In reading these guidelines, I find not only individuals. But corporations, institutions and even some government entities have been complicit in improperly and even disrespectfully displaying the flag. Not intentionally I fervently believe, but through ignorance of proper flag etiquette.

My wish is that our flag will someday receive the same respect, consideration and care at home by her citizens, that is required of her armed forces wherever they may serve.

I think it sad that the flags of tyrants might be better treated than the banner of our fathers!

With no apologies
Robert Paty
Still proud to be an American

This letter was printed in the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel June 4th 2006

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