Disrespecting the Flag

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.

Half FlagFlying 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.

ConfederateAccording 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.

Obama FlagWe 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.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
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13 thoughts on “Disrespecting the Flag

  1. A few points. First, as you highlight, there are laws to specifically deal with those who desecrate the flag. If, as you claim, those laws are insufficient to meet the current situation, what is it that YOU are proposing to resolve the situation?

    Second, politicians will always disappoint someone. It is the nature of a job that requires the occupant to represent so many competing interests. Obama is on his way out. How do you expect his replacement to resolve the representational paradox inherent in the job?

    Last, shouldn’t the flag be flown at half staff on each occasion when someone dies in defense of the US? That should include all deaths of service men and women, including emergency service men and women. After all, their deaths are also worthy of such acknowledgement.

  2. The mere fact this nation is in the shape it is ,is because the good people do not know how to unite! We do not know how to come together as one force united! The government has come to believe they own us,,we are their subjects. The mere fact obama even made it into the house,( not white house ) is evidence of america falling to her knees,,,The flag means nothing,,the rainbow flag means a lot,,the military disgust me,not allowing it’s members to be armed ,,just close the blinds was their answer!! over 4,000 aborted unborn babies daily in this nation ,,no flag for them,,obama should be exiled asap,, many say he is one of Gods judgements against this nation!

  3. You need to allow me to speak my mind ,,not play russia and do away with that right also,,oh wait thats america,,sorry,,,forgot,

  4. That’s because the president of 56 states has no respect for our Free America, our Constitution or our Flag.
    The only extra states o bama will and has visited are,
    state of confusing,
    state of dis-grace,
    state your lies
    appointed a disgraceful liar secretary of state
    state of poor decisions
    muslin state of ass backwards morons.
    with this guy in office…S… Floats

  5. Patriotism is definitely being dulled in America. We’ve allowed our teachers and leaders to push liberal, anti-American agendas like removing the pledge of allegiance, NOT teaching flag protocol, NOT teaching military organization in Civics class etc. When I took Civics in High School in 1982 we were taught flag protocol, military organization and basics and we got a refresher on the pledge of allegiance in addition to all the civics.

    IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR BELIEFS ARE, but AMERICA allows you to have those beliefs and speak them without being persecuted so you OWE respect to America and its symbol, OUR flag.

  6. Remember, he had it lowered almost immediately when Whitney Houston killed herself. He has no respect for our flag or this country.

  7. Obama is a Disgrace ! Disrespectful and unworthy of the respect due the President of the United States. He will go down in history as the WORST President ever ! I am embarrassed to have him as President. I long for the days of President Reagan !

  8. With recruiters struggling to find those willing to serve today is a testament on how they see their Supreme Commander & Country treating them as worthy of respect. Anyone who raised their hand to serve this President needs their head examined. Like with Adolf Hitler the US Armed Forces no longer serve the best interests of this country, they swear an allegiance to the Commander in Chief and follow his orders above the US Constitution…….it’s time to lift your head up and look around….if you go to war expect to die or have your legs blown off for an illegal attack on another country just to turn it’s oil and resources over to a terror group after you developed PTSD….only then do you get to cash in on your MGIB and go to college and when you’re finished with college you get to be a decorated war hero greeting customers at Walmart…..sound like a good sacrifice now?

    Over 75% of the males on both sides of our family have served since before WWI, and the way this country has gone…. I am the last one in my family!

    Your kids turn Yuppie!

    I don’t blame Obama, I blame the ones who serve him and those that elected him! Wake Up America!!!

  9. It is a sorry state that our President is unable to educate himself in the customs and courtesies of military protocol and flag protocol. If he had served any time in the military prior to becoming the Commander in Chief he would have know about proper flag courtesy.
    Let us not forget though he also doesn’t know much about military courtesy either. Remember the “Starbucks salute”. As President he is not required to return a service member’s salute. That is a custom started by President Reagan and emulated by every President since him. However, even though President Reagan never served in uniform, he took the time to learn proper military customs and courtesies like ‘you don’t salute with a something like a coffee cup in your hand’.
    President Obama didn’t have to return the Marine’s salute yet if he was going to he should have switch the cup to the other hand.
    So forgive this liberal slacker if he doesn’t know much about honoring the flag or our military.
    He also has a west wing full of liberal slackers who should have known that the proper response to the shootings was to lower the flag. Unfortunately most of them probably have never served in the military either so they don’t possess the knowledge of what is right either.
    Hopefully Mr. Obama’s successor will be knowledgeable of proper military courtesies or will take the time to learn them.

  10. Loved the article. Only issue is that there is no archival evidence that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag. This was a story first told by her grandson in the 1870s (a century later) with no mention or documentation in earlier decades.

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