JIM CREES: Honoring Old Glory … across the board!

ACREES MUGs we approach the celebration of this

 nation’s Independence Day I’ve been given over to some consideration as to how we honor and respect our national symbols.

Around this time of year, and especially in an election year, our representatives in Washington and Lansing get all excited about protecting the flag.

Not too long ago, there was a suggested change to wording in the Constitution that would read: “The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

The effort is kinda unnecessary. There actually is already a formalized code of flag etiquette in place for those interested in honoring the symbols of this great nation.

I, for one, appreciate the simple honors we give our nation’s flag.

I guess I’m just an old softy but when the National Anthem is played I remove my hat and place my hand over my heart. It doesn’t demand too much effort to be polite and respectful of the symbols of any nation or religion.

Still, whether you like it or not, the flag desecration issue is a tricky one because it involves the free speech debate as well.

Obviously people get upset at flag burning. It’s a pretty extreme form of desecration. Luckily it happens like …almost never!

Folks also get pretty worked up if some rock-and-roll star wears an American flag patch on the seat of his pants, but they seem less concerned when a country music star wears an American flag bandana to absorb half a gallon of sweat throughout his enthusiastic performance.

Who determines which is desecration?

And, ladies and gentlemen, there is no dearth of “desecration” around this country of late – much of it couched in the guise of ‘patriotism.’

I recently went shopping to find items misusing the American flag.

In local ‘box stores’ and on the Internet you can get an absolutely stunning amount of goods produced, I suppose, to demonstrate our patriotism but actually desecrating the flag.

The United States Flag Code, which formalizes standards of respect for Old Glory says:

“The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.”

In local stores you can buy paper tablecloths, napkins, and any number of handy-dandy picnic items embossed with the American flag – all for one-time use.

I’m not referring to the red, white and blue motif or versions of patriotic coloring. I’m talking about the American flag – white stars on a field of blue, red and white stripes supporting the same.

“The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.”

How about an American flag cooler for only $30?

You can keep “up to 20 cans” of beer cool while showing you love your country.

Or how about the American flag trashcan for use in patriotic offices?

For golfers, there are plenty of ways to show your patriotism.

How about American flag golf balls? And I quote: “These patriotic golf balls will be an instant hit on the first tee. . .” ($19.95 for three.) We get upset if some ‘foreigner’ stomps on the flag but we can whack it around a golf course???

Or how about an “American Flag Plush Putter Cover – Helps protect wood shafts from damage due to putter head scraping.”

There’s also the American flag golf headcovers – “Show your Patriotic Pride on the links.”

Or the American flag golf towel – so you can wipe your hands and grubby golf equipment on the flag. Not a red, white and blue patterned towel – an exact duplication of the U.S. flag.

Hey. If you don’t golf that’s OK.

How about an American Flag Inflatable Chair on which to float down the Muskegon? ($5.95)

Or how about that American Flag Beach Towel? You can toss it on the ground and lay on it, or wipe yourself dry after a dip in the pond.

If it’s a little cool out you can wrap up in the American Flag Fleece Blanket – “Show your pride with this brilliant blanket.”

No kinda-sorta here.

A fleece version of the American flag – both sides.

The code suggests – “The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.”

Well!!!!

Does that mean those musicians up on stage shouldn’t be wearing that American flag bandana? ($2 from any number of stores.)

I guess then it also means my dog can’t wear his version of the flag – “This unique, hand appliquéd bandana looks as if your pet is actually wearing the American flag” ($8.95 for the doggy bandana. . . more than the human version!)

And what about the American flag socks?

I guess the “. . .part of a costume or athletic uniform” doesn’t include the American flag boxer shorts. (On sale for $11.95. “Great to wear on July 4th, Flag Day, Memorial Day or anyday.”)

And if we’re talking about boxers, then how about the American flag jockstrap. ($13.95 “gives a no lines look under fitted garments.”)

Or. . . how about the American flag thong for the girls. (Closeout sale. $3. “It’ll be fun to salute this American flag on a pink background daily.”)

Then of course there’s the “USA American flag G-string bikini.” (”The boys will stand at attention when you walk in the room with this sizzler.” $29 for a unique expression of patriotism.)

Don’t believe it?

Believe it!!!

And I haven’t included the American flag “pretzel bikini” let alone the shirts, pants, shoes and any other of the clothing that would struggle falling under the Flag Code guidelines.

So what is desecration?

Is it just when some disgruntled citizen burns a flag to protest this, that or the other thing?

Or is it also when some ‘patriot’ gets out of the shower or pool and wipes himself dry with Old Glory?

Who determines what is desecration and what is patriotism?

We’d better be awfully careful while discussing this one.

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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