Flag etiquette is one of those topics that most people have a basic knowledge of, but little understanding. We know that the United States flag should never touch the ground, you remove your hat and salute or cover your heart during the national anthem, and everyone knows the Pledge of Allegiance. There are many minute rules that need to be observed to respect the flag.
When I purchased my home just over five years ago, one of the first things I noticed was that I have a very clear view of the beautiful flag area at Kennedy Elementary. Being a Navy veteran (EO3, 1986-1990), I was proud to have this view, I enjoy seeing our flag every morning before going to work – subconsciously I still stop and salute as I did many years ago.
I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point, I realized that the daily raising and lowering of the flag was no longer taking place. The flag is left raised, year-round — during inclement weather, and during daylight and darkness.
Title 4, Section 6 of the United States Code states: “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”
This leaves little to interpretation, however there are some that will argue that “ambient lighting” is sufficient, or spot lights are not cost effective. I believe that there are alternatives that will provide the respect that the flag deserves.
A few days before the Fourth of July this year, I observed eight flags around Hastings. Only one was properly illuminated — the flag at Perkins. All the others were in complete darkness. They were the three elementary schools, the middle school, the high school, the post office, and ironically the Dakota County Government Center (which has the proper lights but are not in use).
I hope this gets the attention of those that are responsible for making the decisions necessary. Perhaps a fraction of the money used for the Todd Field upgrade could have been used to pay for some lights? I'm sure other proud Americans would agree with me.