Paid subscription site - printed in entirety Have We Taken The Starch Out of Respect for the Flag? By Rebecca Robbins for Herald-Times June 14, 2005 If you didn't remember that today is Flag Day, you are not alone. Wedged between Memorial Day and Independence Day, Flag Day is the forgotten middle child of the patriotic family. No one has the day off. Most people don't remember it. There are so many other holidays with better food. Officially established by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, the holiday was intended to mark the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777, the day our newborn country adopted the stars and stripes. On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th National Flag Day. Perhaps the real reason that Flag Day seems to have been forever relegated to the B team of holidays is that every day is now "flag day" in the United States. We have year-round flag clothing and flag home furnishings. We have flag-imprinted credit cards and cookie dough. Flag motifs are painted on boat hulls and gas station walls. We once saluted the Red, White and Blue at ball parks; now we sit on it in the form of flag stadium cushions. We barely notice the big flags that fly at government buildings and schools, because there are even bigger flags that fly over banks and Bob Evanses. With all our well-meaning patriotism, I wonder if the dignity of our flag is being compromised by all of this flagware. Instead of heralding our nation's founding principles, the flag has become the color scheme of the day. According to flag historians, the colors red, white and blue are historically symbolic: Red signifies hardiness and valor; white, purity and innocence; blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice. Are these our noble thoughts when we spread the catsup-stained flag tablecloth over the picnic table? The federal Flag Code contains rules and regulations about how the flag and its likenesses may be displayed. Section 8, "Respect for the Flag," states that the flag should not be "printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard." Ironic as it may seem, patriotic partyware may actually be a sign of disrespect. The Betsy Ross Homepage (www.ushistory.org/betsy) offers some surprising answers to frequently asked questions about flag usage: Q: "Is it OK to have a flag T-shirt with words written on it?" A: "No, the flag should never be worn, and no the flag should never have marks or words written upon it." (Sorry, Old Navy shoppers.) Q: "Is it OK for an advertisement to use the flag? A.: "No. The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever." (Political candidates, you are not exempt.) Q "I am thinking of getting a flag tattoo. Is it OK?" A: "There is nothing in the Flag Code about tattoos In this case, one person's respect is another's disrespect, and we advise against a flag tattoo. Perhaps an American Eagle would look good?" (Or better yet, "Mom.") Addressing the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sported not his military uniform but his "riding outfit," a denim shirt emblazoned with a large flag pattern. Here was the highest officer in the military, recklessly tossing out the Flag Code in favor of one big, bad shirt. Maybe it's time we returned to the days of true respect for the flag. Instead of reducing Old Glory to boxer shorts, we should reserve it for special observances, when we sit up, take note and pay it the respect it deserves.