It was a ritual I remember pretty clearly, though I took part in it some 37 years ago.
I was an 11-year-old safety boy---remember those?---and part of my duty included taking care of the school's U.S. flag.
And I do mean "taking care of."
I remember that there was much reverence, as much as a youngster can show, every time a partner and I lowered, folded, unfolded and raised Old Glory.
Every morning I was part of the tandem that was responsible for getting the flag up the pole before the school day. Sometimes I was part of the pair who lowered it at the end of the day and folded it, properly.
In both instances, the flag was sacred. I remember being told to don't dare allow the flag to touch the ground, even for a second. And it had to be folded a particular way---a way that I really didn't understand because it seemed clunky, but I did it. Because that's how I was taught.
As I grew older, I learned of other unwritten---and written---rules of how the U.S. flag ought to be treated.
Shining a light on it at night, for example. Lowering it at the end of the day, if there is to be no light source.
A neighbor of ours, a couple years ago, installed a flag pole and hoisted the stars and stripes up it. Terrific.
He hasn't paid attention to the flag since. He certainly hasn't shined a light on it at night. It wasn't long before his flag, once brand new, started to look tattered and torn and something straight out of a Revolutionary War painting.
So the question on this Flag Day 2012 is simply, "Do we as Americans know how to treat our flag anymore?"
This is a nifty gadget for individuals who wish to fly the U.S. flag at night
There's something called protocol, and I don't think we're following it.
I don't know how many times I've seen U.S. flags flying at night---in the dark.
The U.S. flag, should one choose to display it, ought to be done so properly. I think we're losing that.
For those wondering why I haven't called my neighbor out about his ham handed attempt at flying Old Glory, I can tell you that he's not the type to take such advice---at all. His intentions might have been good, but his execution is sorely lacking. And always will be.
There's been much consternation over the past several decades about flag burning. I can see why that's a hot button issue.
But daily displays of the U.S. flag that are at once derelict, lazy and disrespectful ought to be paid attention to, as well.
Fly it. Display it. Do it proudly.
But do it right, or don't do it at all.