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For Which It Stands

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The flag of the United States of America is one of the most recognizable symbols of our Nation. People from other nations across the world know our flag when they see it. Most of us grew up in a home where our parents, grandparents or neighbors flew the flag. Now we are grown up, and many of us choose to fly a flag in front of our homes.

Personally, I feel the flag represents honor, courage, independence and sacrifice. It is a constant reminder of home for military personnel who are deployed overseas. I remember feeling safer during my last deployment when we drove past the flag coming onto base. It reminded me of home and made the long deployment a little more bearable.

My grandfather is a Korean War veteran who still flies a flag every day. I remember watching him put it outside of our house every morning. He explained to me how important it is to treat the flag with respect and display it properly.

Both my grandfather and I have friends who passed away and received a flag draped over their caskets. We understand the sacrifice made by thousands of military personnel for the country they love. So, we fly our flags to honor our fallen friends and because of the enormous pride we feel for our country.

According to Air Force Pamphlet 34-1202 flags play an important role in every military ceremony, and there are formal rules of etiquette with regard to their use and display. The National flag of the United States of America is the most important symbol of our nation's past and future, and it's important that we not only display it proudly, but properly too.

I live on base, and sometimes in the evenings my son and I go for a walk. He always asks about the flags we see. I explain to him about proper etiquette and why showing respect for the flag is so significant.

We talk about the courage of our founding fathers who fought for our freedom so long ago and how the flag was different back then after we won our independence. We talk about all the military personnel throughout history who fought under the flag and gave their lives for this nation.

I hope he feels secure when he looks at it, just like I do. No matter where I am, seeing the flag flying always makes me feel a little more relaxed and safe.

The Flag Code states that prior to Flag Day on June 14, 1923, there were no federal or state regulations governing display of the flag. It was on that date the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference.

It is the universal custom to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, it may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed. Also, it should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, or water.

I love when the flag is displayed all around towns and at sporting events like the Olympic Games. Every time an American athlete wins an event and the flag is raised with the national anthem playing in the background...I get chills. That is the symbolic power of our flag.

Our flag is flown from the tops of our tallest buildings and largest ships, and watches over the courtrooms and classrooms throughout America. It has even left this world behind as it traveled to the limitless reaches of space, and even now watches over all the Earth from its home on the moon.

The 19th century social reformer, Henry Ward Beecher, said of the flag, "A thoughtful mind when it sees a nation's flag, sees not the flag, but the nation itself. And whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag, the government, the principles, the truths, the history that belong to the nation that sets it forth. The American flag has been a symbol of liberty and men have rejoiced in it."
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