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Issues Flying the American Flag

Over the past couple of years we have looked at guidelines to properly fly and display the American flag. Two of the most often visited pages on the website are “Retiring an American Flag” and the “Flag Etiquette Quiz.” Links to both of these are included below. Many of the problems people are facing today is not whether they are displaying the flag properly but whether they can display the flag at all.

On October 12, 2009 Melica Johnson of KATU News in Albany, Oregon reported that Jim Clausen had problems with the management of the Oaks Apartments because he flies an American flag from the back of his motorcycle. He has a son who is heading back to Iraq and flying the flag is Jim’s way of supporting his son. Sharon White who also lives in the Oaks Apartments was told to remove the American flag she flies on her car. Both faced eviction if they did not comply with the flag removal decrees. They were told that the flags had to come down because “someone might be offended.” On October 18 KATU news reported the ban was lifted. People can now “fly any flag of any nationality.”

On October 15 2009 Clynton Namou of the New Hampshire Union Leader reported another flag incident at the University of New Hampshire. Conner MacIver, who is the son of a retired Army officer, hung an American flag outside his dorm window. The University said he had to take the flag down. Apparently the flag violated a dorm policy that bans, "Television or radio antennae and any other objects which are placed outside the room window or anywhere on the exterior of the building or adjacent grounds." It seems the American flag is equated to a radio antenna.

Several news sources reported in May 2009 that Debbie McLucas, who works at the Kindred Hospital in Mansfield, Texas, was told on the Friday before Memorial Day that she had to take down the American flag she had been displaying in her hospital window because it was determined to be “offensive.” One of her colleagues who had immigrated from Africa 14 years earlier had complained to management. The flag was taken down. McLucas, whose daughter is a combat medic in Iraq, was distraught. The news story got national coverage. Several days later McLucas was allowed to hang her flag again. Although the topic had never been raised earlier, hospital management said that the issue was not the flag but the size of the flag. She is now displaying a slightly smaller flag and apparently happy with the resolution of the situation.

The American flag has been the center of protests for years. Flag burning. Flag stomping. All manner of disrespect for the flag. The Supreme Court has made some rulings about using the flag in protest. While America is a land open to all people, the American flag is not just another flag- it is the national flag. It should have precedent over state flags or other national flags. I think political correctness and the fear of “offending someone” has gone too far.


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