Should the American flag be banned
The US flag - no ordinary piece of cloth
Riot around the US embassy in Berlin: The rainbow flag, the symbol of the lesbian and gay movement, flies on a side mast of the building under the US flag. US Ambassador Richard Grenell, who is openly gay, had the colorful flag hoisted this week in preparation for Christopher Street Day (CSD) this Saturday.
For the CSD, at which members of the LGBTQ community celebrate love and tolerance, the message was also decorated with other means in rainbow colors, as a video on Twitter shows. But the flag caused a special stir.
In the US, June is celebrated as "Pride Month", the month in which the rights of LGBTQ people and tolerance towards them are celebrated. The administration of US President Donald Trump had banned its embassies around the world from hoisting the rainbow flag during Pride Month. This regulation continues to apply. Ambassador Grenell specifically pointed out that the flag in front the embassy in Berlin blows - and not at the main mast on the roof of the building.
But the thing is not eaten. The US State Department had made it clear on June 10th that flagpoles are only intended for the US flag. The rainbow flag could be presented elsewhere in the embassy buildings. What this episode makes clear: Americans have no joke when it comes to their flag.
The Star-Spangled Banner
The US flag with the stars and stripes dates from the time of the War of Independence against the British. In 1777 the 13 states on the east coast of what is now the United States stipulated that their flag should show 13 stripes, alternating in red and white: one stripe for each former colony. In addition, 13 white stars on a blue background could be seen in the upper left corner, representing the unity of the 13 states. There are 50 stars on today's US flag, one for each state; the 13 stripes remained. Important: the top stripe is red, then it goes on alternately.
The flag is omnipresent
Americans love their flag. If you drive through the USA outside of the big cities, you will see many apartment buildings with the "Stars and Stripes" flag hanging in front of them, in large format. The flag is of course also represented in public buildings such as authorities or schools. In many schools, all students and teachers stand up every day for the "Pledge of Allegiance", the oath of allegiance to the flag. He begins with the words, "I swear allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands." From this it becomes clear: the flag is not just a piece of cloth. It is a symbol of the patriotism that many Americans live independently of political questions.
President Donald Trump is very, very fond of the US flag
Since the stars and stripes are so important, there are of course precise rules on how to deal with them. These are enshrined in the United States Flag Act in ten detailed paragraphs. Among other things, it is legally stipulated that at the "Pledge of Allegiance" you have to face the flag with your right hand on your heart. The flag should hang from sunrise to sunset. If you want to let it blow at night, you have to make sure that it is adequately lit. The flag should not be hoisted on days with severe weather unless it is a special all-weather flag.
The first sentence of Clause 8 sums it up well: "The flag of the United States of America must not be treated with disrespect." This includes the following regulations:
- The flag must never touch the ground.
- The flag must never be hung upside down, i.e. with the stars down, unless you are in danger of death and want to draw attention to your emergency situation.
- The flag must never be worn as an item of clothing. Sound confusing? T-shirts or shirts with the stars and stripes on them are allowed. But a flag that was previously hung on a flagpole, for example to be converted into a dress, is forbidden.
The flag that lies on the coffin of a deceased soldier is not allowed to be buried. Instead, it is given to a family member.
The brave flag guards of Perkins
These laws don't just exist on paper. In April 2018, employees at a restaurant belonging to the Perkins fast food chain in the US state of Wisconsin showed how serious they are about respecting the flag. An unusually violent blizzard, even for the northern state, tore the flagpole in front of the restaurant to the ground. The fastening of the flag was still too high to be able to simply remove the flag. "An employee stood outside and held the flag above the ground in all the wind, ice, and snow," remembers Brittney Maehl, who captured the event with her camera. "That moved me a lot."
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