Taking care of Old Glory

Nov. 11—GREENSBURG — Saturday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, and flying an American flag is a great way to show support for the veterans who have served our nation, living or dead.

There are certain responsibilities and traditions one should be familiar with before flying Old Glory.

First, there are many parts of the American flag.

The header is the band of material placed on the pole side (hoist) of the flag. It serves to secure the flag to the halyard line. The header is usually made of a thick cotton/poly blend that feels like canvas.

The canton, a term which usually refers to the top left corner, is also called the union. It's the blue background where the 50 stars are sewn or appliqued.

The field is the background or predominant color of the flag and on our flag; that color is white.

The 13 red stripes adorning the flag symbolize the 13 original colonies established in the New World.

The fly end is the edge of the flag furthest away from the pole that flies freely and endures the most stress or whip.

Veteran John Tumilty and retired past adjutant of the Greensburg American Legion takes responsibility for maintaining the retired flag supply at the Legion.

He makes sure the flags brought to the Legion are properly retired, usually by burning.

"Many died so this flag could fly, and treating it with respect when it's flown and when it's taken down are a show of appreciation for their sacrifices," he said.

Some tips on displaying a United States Flag (from www.military.com/flag-day/flag-ettiquette-dos-and-donts.html):

Display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. When a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24-hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

When placed on a single staff or lanyard, place the U.S. flag above all other flags.

When flags are displayed in a row, the U.S. flag goes to the observer's left. Flags of other nations are flown at the same height. State and local flags are traditionally flown lower. When used during a marching ceremony or parade with other flags, the U.S. flag will be to the observer's left.

On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.

When flown at half-staff, it should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff means lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.

When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union (blue field of stars) to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street. When placed on a podium the flag should be placed on the speaker's right or the staging area. Other flags should be placed to the left.

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall (or other flat surface), the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, to the observer's left.

When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, with the union to the left of the observer in the street. When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

Never dip the U.S. flag for any person, flag, or vessel and never let it touch the ground.

Never fly a flag upside down unless there is an emergency, and when displaying it never tie it back; always let it fly free.

Never use the flag for decoration. Use buntings with the blue on top, then white, then red.

To properly retire a flag that is showing wear, bring it to the Welsh-Crawly-Kramer American Legion Post #129 at 326 E. Main Street or to the Decatur County Courthouse in Greensburg.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-651-0876 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com