Flap over the flag | VailDaily.com

Flap over the flag

Cmdr. Scott Carpenter (former Mercury 7 astronaut) and the former commander of our VFW Post, Col. Buddy Sims, will speak at today’s dedication of the flagpole and Garrison flag at The Village at Avon. Carpenter is a personal hero of mine, and Buddy is a personal friend. But no one outside of Traer Develop-ment knows for certain the real motive behind the erection of such an imposing structure in our mountain setting. No laws have been broken, and proponents tell us that the flagpole and the flag that will fly from it are being placed there as a patriotic gesture, nothing more. Perhaps so, but a few facts about U.S. flag etiquette may be helpful in gaining a perspective regarding the controversy.It is the universal custom to display the American flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, the following are executive ordered exceptions to that custom: The American flag flies 24 hours a day at these historic or important governmental sites: the Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the White House, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.; the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.; the Iwo Jima Memorial to U.S. Marines, Arlington, Va.; the battleground in Lexington, Mass. (site of the first shots in the Revolutionary War); the winter encampment cabins, Valley Forge, Pa.; Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Md. (a flag flying over Fort McHenry after a battle during the War of 1812 provided the inspiration for our national anthem); the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, Md. (site where the famed flag over Fort McHenry was sewn); the Jenny Wade House in Gettysburg, Pa. (Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed at the battle of Gettysburg); The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and at all U.S. Customs points and points of entry into the United States. That’s pretty exclusive real estate. Regardless of who is elected in November, somehow I doubt that the Wal-Mart-Home Depot complex in Avon, Colo., will be added to that list by presidential order.With that said, the official U.S. flag etiquette code contains several codicils regarding display of the flag. The most important codicil is the one that states, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.” Unfortunately the code does not detail every type of objectionable advertising purpose.Also, among the codicils germane to issues of the Village at Avon flagpole is one specifying, “When the American flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, it should be destroyed in dignified way.” By extrapolation it follows that the flag should be replaced when that occurs. I’ve been advised that the flag mast is a replica from three American battleships resting at the bottom of Pearl Harbor: the Arizona, the Oklahoma and the Utah. But the Wal-Mart-Home Depot parking lot is not Battleship Row. Personally, I think the flagpole’s appearance lies somewhere between unsightly and ghastly, but that’s just one man’s aesthetic opinion and perhaps when Old Glory is flying on a gorgeous Colorado day I will change my mind. I do not know the owners of Traer Creek, but I have to question the motive behind the erection of what I consider to be blemish on the landscape because a patriotic display could have been accomplished in numerous other ways. Nevertheless, I will accept Traer Creek’s contention that their motives are pure. But in the event that they are not, I would deem the actions as dishonorable at worst and unseemly at best.Assuming the motive is to show national pride, I’m certain that Traer Creek will ensure that all aspects of flag etiquette are strictly adhered to. We are told that flagpole was built and dyed-painted-colored to match blue Union (the blue field backing the 50 stars.) Therefore, it will be easy to ascertain when the flag “… is no longer a fitting emblem of display” because the color of the Union will become lighter than the flagpole itself. A true patriot replaces his or her flag whenever it “is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display” and since I am told that this will be the largest (or among the largest) flags in the state, Traer Creek should abide by every aspect of the U.S. Code for flag etiquette and replace the Stars and Stripes whenever the colors fade or whenever it begins to show the slightest signs of wear.I sincerely hope that is the case, because 40,000 people will be watching.Mazzuca can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.net

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