Proper Flag Etiquette

June 9, 2004 -- Posted 5 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- From sea to shining sea, there's one unifying United States symbol that holds this country together: the American Flag.

And now more than ever, the red, white and blue is catching the attention of Americans, as Ronald Reagan is laid to rest, and the country remains at war.

But is the flag being properly respected?

"I'd say 90% of the public do not know the proper protocol to display a flag," said Jonesboro Historian Danny Honnoll.

Honnoll says it's customary for the nation to fly flags at half staff in honor of deceased presidents.

"It's just a sign that we are in mourning," said Honnoll.

When a flag is flown at half staff it should first be hoisted to its peak quickly and then lowered to half staff and then at the end of the day, the same procedure should be repeated again.

But although the flag is used as a symbol of respect, the flag itself is often times disrespected.

"My pet peeve is that after the flag is tattered and worn to take it down and retire it properly," said Honnoll.

"You need to give it to the Elks Lodge or the Boys Scouts that has retirement ceremonies, that throw all the flags together and they cut the stripes apart and the stars apart and they burn it, and then they take the ashes and they put it into a container so that the ashes don't even touch the dirt."

There's been some debate over whether the American Flag stamp is in violation of flag rules, and according to those rules it is. The rules state that the American Flag should not be printed on anything that will be temporarily used or discarded.

"We commercialize it to the point....people think they are honoring the flag the more they put it up, but you tend to eat foods off a plate and you throw them away," said Honnoll.

"I think we take old flags and make clothing out of it wear it I think that's very disrespectful."

Unnecessary disrespect for a symbol of freedom and hope.