By: Carolyn Hileman

Over the last few days there has been much ado about flags, from Obama’s picture during the National Anthem where he did not place his hand over his heart, to Cheney hunting on property where the owners had a Confederate flag hanging in their garage, and then of course we have the problem of Mexican flags being flown above the American flag. I thought a little education was needed since the presidential wanna be does not know proper etiquette when the National Anthem is being played and Al (you owe me because I am black) Sharpton does not know or care about the history of the Confederate flag and assumes that just because he does not like something the rest of the world must adhere to his wishes and rid the word of such scourge, even if it is hanging in a garage on a private residence. And since the illegal immigrants seem to really believe that shoving their flag down our throats is going to make us accept them I thought I might enlighten some people or I might offend a few…

Though often referred to as “The” battle flag of the Confederacy it was only one of more than 180 separate Confederate military battle flags. The Army of Northern Virginia battle flag was usually square, of various sizes for the different branches of the service: 48 inches square for the infantry, 36 inches for the artillery, and 30 inches for the cavalry. It was used in battle beginning in December 1861 until the fall of the Confederacy. The blue color on the saltire in the battle flag was navy blue, as opposed to the much lighter blue of the Naval Jack. The flag’s stars represented the number of states in the Confederacy. The distance between the stars decreased as the number of states increased, reaching thirteen when the secessionist factions of Missouri and Kentucky joined in late 1861. At the First Battle of Bull Run, the similarity between the Stars and Bars and the Stars and Stripes caused confusion and military problems. Regiments carried flags to help commanders observe and assess battles in the warfare of the era. At a distance, the two national flags were hard to tell apart. In addition, Confederate regiments carried many other flags, which added to the possibility of confusion. After the battle, General Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard wrote that he was “resolved then to have [our flag] changed if possible, or to adopt for my command a ‘Battle flag’, which would be Entirely different from any State or Federal flag.”[14] He turned to his aide, who happened to be William Porcher Miles, the former chair of Committee on the Flag and Seal. Miles described his rejected national flag design to Beauregard. Miles also told the Committee on the Flag and Seal about the general’s complaints and request for the national flag to be changed. The committee rejected this idea by a four to one vote, after which Beauregard proposed the idea of having two flags. He described the idea in a letter to his commander General Joseph E. Johnston: “I wrote to [Miles] that we should have two flags — a peace or parade flag, and a war flag to be used only on the field of battle — but congress having adjourned no action will be taken on the matter — How would it do us to address the War Dept. on the subject of Regimental or badge flags made of red with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally on which shall be introduced the stars, … We would then on the field of battle know our friends from our Enemies.”

The flag of the United States of America consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 U.S. states and the 13 stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British crown and became the first states in the Union.[1] Nicknames for the flag include “the Stars and Stripes” and “Old Glory”. Because of its symbolism, the starred blue canton is called the “union”. This part of the national flag can stand alone as a maritime flag called the Union Jack[3] which served as the U.S. jack on warships from 1777 until 2002. It continues to be used as a jack by various federally-owned vessels, including those of the Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The United States flag is one of the nation’s widely recognized and used symbols. Within the U.S. it is frequently displayed, not only on public buildings, but on private residences, as well as iconically in forms such as decals for car windows, and clothing ornaments such as badges and lapel pins. Throughout the world it is used in public discourse to refer to the U.S., both as a nation state, government, and set of policies, but also as an ideology and set of ideals. Many understand the flag to represent the freedoms and rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights and perhaps most of all to be a symbol of individual and personal liberty as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Through the Pledge of Allegiance and other political uses the flag has also come to be associated with U.S. nationalism, patriotism, and even militarism. The flag is a complex and contentious symbol, around which emotions run high. In terms of the symbolism of the design itself, a book about the flag published by the Congress in 1977 states: “The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”[4] George Washington is credited for saying: “We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.” Many people also take the red and white to stand for the blood of those who gave their lives for freedom, and the presumed purity of the freedom ideal, respectively. Flag etiquette The United States Flag Code outlines certain guidelines for the use, display, and disposal of the flag. For example, the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation. (This tradition comes from the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, where countries were asked to dip their flag to King Edward VII: the American team captain Martin Sheridan refused, famously proclaiming that “this flag dips to no earthly king.”]) Although the Flag Code is U.S. Federal law, there is no penalty for failure to comply with the Flag Code and it is not widely enforced—indeed, punitive enforcement would conflict with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Passage of the proposed Flag Desecration Amendment would overrule legal precedent that has been established in this area.

Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting. When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.

The Flag of Mexico is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country’s War of Independence. The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821 when the First National Flag was created. The current law of national symbols, Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984. Throughout history, the flag has changed 4 times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified. However, the coat of arms has had the same features throughout: an eagle, holding a serpent in its talon, is perched on top of a prickly pear cactus; the cactus is situated on a rock that rises above a lake. The coat of arms is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle and a serpent, which is now Mexico City. The current national flag, the Fourth National Flag, is also used as the Mexican naval ensign by ships registered in Mexico. When the flag is paraded in front of a crowd, those in military uniform must present a salute according to their regulations. Civilians that are present give the following salute to the national flag: standing at attention (firmes), the civilian raises their right arm and places their right hand on their chest, in front of the heart. The hand is flat and the palm of the hand is facing the ground. This salute is known as the “El saludo civil a la Bandera Nacional” (“The Civil Salute to the National Flag”). When the President is acting in the capacity of the Head of the Armed Forces, he salutes the national flag with a military salute. When the national anthem is played on television to open or close daily programming, the national flag will be shown at the same time. During certain times of the year, the flag is flown by both civilians and government personnel. Mostly, these events coincide with national holidays and days of significance to the country. During some of these occasions, the flag will be flown at half-mast to honor the death of important Mexicans. These dates are listed in Article 18 of the Law of the National Flag, Arms and Anthem. The national Día de la Bandera (Flag Day) celebration occurs on February 24. On this day in 1821, all the factions fighting in the War of Independence joined together to form the Army of the Three Guarantees in response to the Plan de Iguala, which was signed by Vicente Guerrero and Agustín de Iturbide, declaring Mexico officially an independent country. General Vicente Guerrero was the first military official who swore allegiance to the national flag.[24] Another flag tradition is that before every Olympics in which Mexico is a participant, the President hands a flag over to the flag bearer, chosen by their peers, to carry with them to the host city.

There you have it a short version of history of each of the flags and for some a lesson in how to salute our flag properly and when. The Confederate flag though often criticized as a symbol of hate and racism has suffered more hatred and racism than it has ever given, you see Al, it was not the flag that held blacks as slaves it was the people and to take your anger and resentment on a flag is silly and borders on insane. I myself am not fond of seeing the Mexican flag hanging in the US, but I am also aware that the flag did not hang itself it had to have some help and those people who hung it above our flags are the ones I have a problem with.

Those of Mexican decent I am sorry to tell you that your flag can only be hung higher than any other flag in your country. You would not like it if I came across the border and started trying to put the United States flag higher than yours. That flag is a symbol of our unity a reminder of each and every soldier who died to protect her and of each mother and father who grieved over their child’s grave. It is a constant reminder of what we have accomplished and what we stand to lose and we do not take too kindly to anyone who wishes to dishonor her in any way, you have chosen to by bringing in your flag and parading it down our streets and that was a mistake. You see most people do not get involved in politics easily, they prefer to have those whom we elected to take care of it, but when you raise your flag above ours, march in the streets under any other banner than Old Glory and stomp our flag the people take notice and we in various ways will retaliate. Be it by taking down your flag or by calling our elected officials insisting that you and anyone else like you be sent to your country where you can fly your flag. As for you Obama, you want to lead our country, yet you show us and our flag not even the slightest respect. You took the flag off your lapel and you stood without saluting our flag during the National Anthem and I am sorry if you cannot treat our countries symbols with the dignity and respect they deserve I am want to believe that you will treat her people any better.

In the End,
we will remember
not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Voice


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About The Author Carolyn Hileman:
The Voice http://www.thevoice.name/

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