By JAYSON JACOBY
Of the Baker City Herald
American flags are flying in Baker County in numbers not matched in half a century.
They flutter above rooftops.
They festoon windows.
They whip in the wind behind pickup trucks.
In our rush to demonstrate patriotism and unity while the horror of the terrorist attacks is still palpable, we may not always treat our nations symbol with the respect it is due.
Of course, in such trying times its not likely anyone will criticize these unintentional breaches of flag etiquette.
It shows patriotism, said Loren Connelly of Baker City, whose parents were in the military and whose brother serves in the armed forces now.
For example, although in ordinary times flags arent flown from vehicles, Connelly said that during times of national tragedy such displays should be acceptable.
Flags on vehicles should be flown from the right front fender, and always from a staff, not draped over the vehicle.
The most important thing, he believes, is that people at all times treat the flag with respect.
Its more than just a flag to people who have been in the military, Connelly said. Its something they look up to.
Baker City resident Cliff Colvin, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, agrees.
Colvin, who served in the Corps from 1945 through 1972 and retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, said he hasnt seen such widespread displays of the red, white and blue since the last weeks of 1941, after Japans attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II.
Its just a feeling of patriotism that people have, he said.
Colvin, who is a member of the Baker School Board, said he has supplied the American Legions pamphlet on flag etiquette to all local schools. He also ordered several flags from the Marine Corps, one of which is displayed at Baker High School.
Colvin said the vast majority of the flags he has seen in Baker City over the past two weeks were displayed properly.
Although he said he would try to correct any improperly flown flags, Colvin said he doesnt want to stifle patriotism by nitpicking about the intricacies of flag etiquette.
For example, flags flown at night are supposed to be illuminated.
The flags the Baker City Rotary Club sets up on sidewalks across the city dont each have a light directed right at them, but Colvin said he thinks the around-the-clock display is acceptable because there are lights close enough to each flag that theyre visible.
No one ought to be daunted by the standards of flag etiquette. Displaying the stars and stripes the right way is just as easy as the wrong, so here are a few basic rules to remember:
Displaying the flag outdoors
o When the American flag flies with other flags, it should always be at the top. In such cases the American flag should be raised first, and lowered last.
o If the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the stars to the north or east.
o If the flag hangs from a building over a sidewalk, the corner with the stars should be farthest from the building.
o Typically flags should be flown between sunrise and sunset. If the flag is displayed after sunset, it should be illuminated.
Displaying the flag on a wall
o When displaying the flag against a wall, whether vertically or horizontally, the stars should be at the top, and at the left side (as you look at it).
Raising and lowering the flag
o The flag should be raised briskly, but lowered slowly.
o When the flag is flown at half-staff, hoist it to the top of the staff, leave it there for a second, then lower it to the halfway position. Before lowering the flag, raise it again to the top for an instant.
o The flag should not touch the ground at any time, nor should it be hung so that it brushes against a building, tree or other objects.
Treating the flag with respect
o The American flag should not be used as a drapery, such as covering a speakers lectern, or as decoration in general. Instead, use red, white and blue bunting for these purposes. The blue strip should always be at the top.
When the flag is displayed on a podium during a speech, it should be to the speakers right.
o Flags should never be worn as clothing. However, it is OK to wear red, white and blue clothing for example, a hat or T-shirt designed to look like a flag.
More information about flag etiquette is available online at www.usflag.org.