It is one of the most precious emblems of freedom in the world; the embodiment of our spiritual heritage; the representation of our historical sacrifices for liberty; a tribute to the men and women who gave the ultimate price for freedom: the American flag. Yet today it is cheapened—nay, mocked—as an attention-getting political device upon which Wayne McDaniel, candidate for Hardin County Judge, hangs his offensively-placed campaign signs.
Old Glory, as it is sometimes called, is more than just a piece of cloth. It is blood, sweat, toil, and tears, justice, freedom, equality, and loyalty: no matter who is in the White House and no matter what party controls Congress, the American flag still represents these sacrifices and ideals—something that cannot be changed.
Respecting the flag sometimes seems silly, perhaps even trivial. However, flag etiquette is far from arbitrary: when the flag is displayed or handled, it is the physical representation of America and lives lost in its defense. That is something easily understood, and hopefully, easily remembered.
Occasionally our flag is disrespected or burned: a deliberate show of hatred not necessarily against America, but what the flag historically stands for. Occasionally the flag is forgotten outdoors: usually a careless misunderstanding or apathy. Occasionally the flag is misused, as it is made to represent ideals that it does not, parties that it cannot, or people that it is not meant to represent.
This is why Wayne McDaniel is wrong.
The flag code (Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 8, i) bars the use of advertisements on a flag pole or halyard that is flying the American flag, which is one reason why McDaniel is inconsiderate in his using the flag’s halyard as a mere campaigning contrivance.
Hoisting McDaniel’s cheesy red and white campaign signs to the same halyard as Old Glory is false advertising. McDaniel’s sign does not represent blood, war, and courage. It does not stand for justice and freedom. The white outlines of the letters do not stand for purity. Most of all, it does not, and cannot, stand for America. Likewise the American flag does not represent the McDaniel campaign.
McDaniel’s breach of flag etiquette may have been unintentional, but it takes only common sense to understand that using the flag for advertising purposes is improper. McDaniel, a bureaucratic administrative officer in the Sheriff’s office, should understand flag protocol, making his disregard of etiquette even more blatant and appalling.
On election day, remember: the flag represents the blood of soldiers, the courage of patriots, God’s justice, America’s blessed freedom, and a special sort of governmental purity that is hard to remember and even harder to live up to. Make sure that your vote reflects what our flag represents.