It happened two hours ago. It’s been five days since five service members were murdered by a Muslim terrorist in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and only two hours since our nation’s president ordered flags be flown at half-staff. The belated action takes place only after days of public outcries calling for it, and one day after former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell sent a simple message to the president via Twitter: “Oh one more thing. Lower the flag!!!!!!!!! Sir.” This after Obama ordered flags be flown at half-staff following the death of Nelson Mandela last December; not only did he issue the order, he made sure it was done immediately. We live in a nation where our president believes a political figure from another country is more deserving of respect than our fallen soldiers.
Tracing the history of flags being flown at half-staff is a bit murky, but historians seem to agree the first known incident took place in 1612. The captain of a British ship called the “Heart’s Ease” passed away while at sea, and when they returned to port, their flag was being flown at half-mast. Herein lies a bit of a terminology lesson: half-mast is a nautical term and refers to the flag being flown below the summit of the mast of a ship. Half-staff is the correct term for flying a flag halfway down the flag’s staff on dry land. The actual reasoning behind that first lowering of the flag was believed to signify the invisible flag of death flying about the nation’s colors.
Flying our flags at half-staff is a symbol of mourning, and a sign of respect for those lost. There are specific guidelines such as flags being flown at half-staff for thirty days when a president passes, every Memorial Day until noon, and, of course, all day on September 11th. Failure to lower a flag in the case of deaths such as the murders of our Marines in Chattanooga isn’t just an oversight, it’s a blatant slap in the face of everything our nation is meant to stand for; it’s an insult of the worst nature.
In recent weeks there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding our nation’s flags. The confederate flag is being dropped with alarming speed by retailers all across the country and online after Dylann Roof, the disturbed young man responsible for murdering church-goers in Charleston, displayed one. That retailers are willing to react with such overwhelming speed to ban a flag steeped in our nation’s history is disturbing. Some may say it’s “just” the confederate flag, so there’s no immediate cause for concern, but they’re failing to see the bigger picture: today it’s the confederate flag. Tomorrow it’s our stars and stripes.
Old Glory isn’t just a collection of scraps of cloth. It’s a symbol of everything this nation was built on. In May of 1776 Betsy Ross sewed the first flag, and by 1777 the Continental Congress passed our nation’s first Flag Act to establish specific guidelines for its design. That long-ago Flag Act is as follows: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Since those long-ago words were penned the flag has grown to fifty stars, one for each state that makes up this great nation, and its appearance has evolved into the flag we’ve all become accustomed to seeing flown all across the country.
Signs of a lack of respect for the flag are everywhere. Since the Charleston shootings, social media has been inundated with shameful images of disrespect: citizens using American flags as toilet tissue, citizens walking and stomping on American flags, citizens lighting American flags on fire. Confederate flags are being ripped from houses and buildings, citizens displaying them on their cars are having their cars vandalized as well as being assaulted in the streets, and nothing is being done to stop it. It’s not that there aren’t any laws regarding these behaviors, because there are.
According to U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 33, 700: “a) (1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. (2) This subsection does not prohibit any conduct consisting of the disposal of a flag when it has become worn or soiled. B) As used in this section, the term “flag of the United States” means any flag of the United States, or any part thereof, made of any substance, of any size, in a form that is commonly displayed. C) Nothing in this section shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of Congress to deprive any State, territory, possession, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico of jurisdiction over any offense over which it would have jurisdiction in the absence of this section. D) (1) An appeal may be taken directly to the Supreme Court o the United States from any interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order issued by a United States district court ruling upon the constitutionality of subsection (a). (2) The Supreme Court shall, if it has not previously ruled on the question, accept jurisdiction over the appeal and advance on the docket and expedite to the greatest extent possible.”
If it seems these two issues – the flying of the flag at half-staff and the desecration of the flag – are separate, the truth is, they really are not. Although flying the flag at half-staff involves respect and mourning for those lost, it also has to do with what the flag stands for, which circles back around to respect for our stars and stripes – or lack thereof. Desecration of the flag shows a monumental lack of respect for it, but what role model do our nation’s young people have for respecting the flag? Certainly not their nation’s leaders. Absolutely not their commander-in-chief.
Respect has been lacking since the day Obama took office. Who among us can forget Michelle Obama’s proclamation that she had never been proud of America, not until the day they voted Barack into office. Who can forget the times both Obamas have failed – read, refused – to place their hands over their hearts to honor a flag being displayed, the times they’ve whispered and grumbled their ways through the Pledge or the singing of our national anthem. To the Obamas it would seem our nation’s flag is nothing but a collection of scraps of cloth, nothing but wasted material. Nothing but a symbol of everything they hope to one day destroy entirely.
We fly our flags at half-staff to honor our fallen. The fact that it took more than five days for Obama to order the flags at our nation’s capitol be lowered as a symbol of our nation’s grief over our lost Marines is utterly despicable. It took almost endless public calls for him to do it capped off by a public demand by Marcus Luttrell. It took days, days Obama undoubtedly spent hoping the fervor would die down and he could slip through the event without doing one of the things he most despises: showing that our nation’s flag means something, that it stands for the blood of our fallen, generations of those lost, the phenomenal sacrifices that have been made to build this country.
Perhaps these words seem harsh. Perhaps supposition is not the way to go, after all, backing up these things with concrete evidence tends to be the way to go. In that case, what more concrete evidence is needed than that already given? Mandela over Marines. Newtown over Navy. Tropical vacations over handling a national crisis. For seven years the Obamas have proven their complete lack of respect for the flag, and for seven years we, as a nation, have stood by and watched it happen. It’s time for complacency to come to an end. It’s time to fight back.
There has been quite an outcry over the confederate flag being banned from many locations from buildings to stores to websites. As a result of the bans citizens are flying confederate flags in far greater numbers than before, displaying them on their homes, cars, and, yes, on their bodies. Although the confederate flag does hold a role in our nation’s history, it does not hold the significance of Old Glory. It does not hold a place of respect like the red, white, and blue. If you’re thinking there’s no risk of our nation’s flag being banned, no risk of it being ripped from homes, buildings, and cars, as the confederate flag has been, think again. The desecration has already begun, and it’s happening with little to no repercussions.
If we as a nation – we as a people – continue in our abject failure to respond to these acts of disrespect, they will not only continue but worsen. Our nation is under attack from within, and failure to recognize that is no small thing. Failure to respond could be nothing short of disastrous. We’ve become a nation divided between those who respect and love this country and those who denigrate and disrespect it. Those who remember the sacrifices made by their forefathers, and those who not only do not care but wipe themselves with the symbol of that sacrifice. United, we stand. Divided, we fall.
The foundation of this nation is crumbling. Will you stand for our flag, or watch it fall?
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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