Vietnam veteran and American Legion Post 30 member Marvin Mixon displays a correctly folded flag Tuesday outside the American Legion hall on Gillionville Road. Flag Day is Thursday.
ALBANY -- Flag Day is Thursday and if history is a guide, Old Glory will be displayed in a variety of forms and manner -- many of them incorrect, according to the American Legion, the largest wartime veterans organization.
The official guide to flag etiquette is contained within a detailed document known as "The Flag Code," created on Flag Day in 1923 by Legion representatives along with 68 other patriotic, fraternal, civic and military organizations.
The codification of rules was adopted by the 77th Congress in 1942 and has been modified over the years. While the code provides a guideline for use and proper disposal of the "Stars and Stripes," it provides nothing in the way of penalties for those who neglect or purposefully ignore the points within it.
While it is the "universal custom" to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs, The Flag Code allows for a 24-hour showing for patriotic effect, as long as the flag is properly illuminated.
As a general rule, the American flag should not be flown in the rain or other inclement weather. The exception comes when an all-weather flag is used. The flag should be hoisted "briskly" and lowered ceremoniously in a manner respectful to its history.
Many may not be aware the code forbids the flag's display on a parade float, except from a staff, or in the same way it might be placed horizontally or vertically against a wall, that is with the "union," or blue field, uppermost and to the viewer's left. An American flag should never be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle, railroad car or boat. When flown from a car, the staff should be "fixed firmly" to the chassis or clamped to the right fender, according to the Legion's reading of the code.
Marvin Mixon, a local attorney, Vietnam veteran and a member of American Legion Post 30 in Albany, says he often sees flags flying from the wrong side of an entranceway.
"It should be on the right side of the door as you're going out," Mixon said. "That's the position of respect, but at least they're flying it."
According to Mixon, the flag should never used for or mixed with any type of commercial advertising, such "used car dealerships lining their lots with flags."
As for ragged or worn-out flags, Mixon says there are two generally acceptable methods for disposing of them: burning in a respectful ceremonious way and burying. He said his Legion post keeps a container at the door for the public to deposit worn-out flags. Legion members later burn the flags in the proper manner, then bury the ashes.
"It just shows support for what the flag stands for," Mixon said. "There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the background of the flag. It's we, the people that are represented."