For thousands of people grasping for a way to show support for the half-million American troops in the Middle East, the flag's the thing.

But when it comes to properly displaying Old Glory from your porch or driveway, there are rules to be followed.

Those rules were enacted by Congress as another generation fought World War II, in what was perhaps the last time patriotic fervor ran so high and Americans were so united behind the flag.

Don't fly the flag at night unlighted, say those versed in flag lore. Don't let the stars and stripes drip in the rain. Don't hang it upside down, backward or below the flag of any state or nation. And don't ever, ever, let it touch the ground.

"I get really proud when I see a flag,"said Jerome G. Denk Sr., a World War II Army veteran and Union Millsresident who has a flag display along the driveway of his Old Hanover Street ranch home. "I just guess there's a little bit of military left in me."

Denk's display of the flag follows most of the dictates of Public Law 94-344, the 1976 version of the original "existing rules and customs pertaining to display and use of the flag" adopted byCongress in 1942.

In Denk's display, a large flag flies above a lighted peace sign, made out of empty oil containers and Christmas light bulbs. Below rests a sign reading, in part, "Lights will burn tillyou return." A yellow ribbon -- seen almost as often as flags in Carroll -- is tied below the sign.

Denk has flown his flag every day for years, but added the additional display about a month ago, about the same time he recorded a telephone answering machine message saying "Our troops are over there for kicking some butts, not kissing somebutts."

Following is a primer on the way the flag is supposed to fly, according to guidelines published by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and based on the rules passed by Congress:

* The flag should be flown on all days, especially holidays. It may be flown at any time. Although it is customary to fly the flag from sunrise to sunset, it can be flown at night if lighted.

* The flag should be raised briskly and lowered solemnly, never touching the ground.

* No other flag is supposed to be flown above the U.S. flag, except for the United Nations flag at U.N. headquarters in New York. A navy chaplain at seamay fly the church pennant above a U.S. flag.

* People should face the flag, stand at attention and salute when it is in a parade, when the national anthem is played, when the flag is raised or lowered and during the Pledge of Allegiance.

* Though burning of the flag as a form of political protest has aroused considerable controversy, incineration is still the preferred method for disposing of worn flags.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad