On Friday, July 19, I drove through Cortez and was struck by the number of flags flying high and rippling in the slight breeze. I counted 29 flags flying at full staff. Presumably, the businesses, agencies and organizations displayed them in an effort to proclaim their pride. I imagine that they are intended as demonstrations of patriotism, respect and support for our country.
There is just one problem. Flags should have been flown at half-staff since the death of John Paul Stevens, retired associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and until sunset on the day of his internment, Tuesday, July 23.
The Flag Code, Title 4, United States Code, states quite clearly: “The flag shall be flown at half staff 30 days from the death of the president or a former president; 10 days from the day of death of the vice president, the chief justice or a retired chief justice of the United States, or the speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an associate justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, a former vice president, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a member of Congress.”
It is true that the presidential proclamation did not state this. The proclamation only stated that flags shall be flown at half-staff on the day of internment. This may justifiably have created confusion among flag-displaying businesses. However, the Flag Code only allows the president to add half-staff days that are in accordance with the code. There is no provision to remove designated days.
According to usa.gov, “The U.S. flag stands for our nation and the shared history, pride, principals and commitment of its people. When we properly display this powerful symbol, we signal our respect for everything it represents.” No respect is shown for the United States, the flag or for the Supreme Court when the flag is flown at full staff in violation of the Flag Code.
On June 14, the Cortez Journal published an article about the Flag Day observances at the Cortez Elks Lodge. A speaker was quoted as saying, “In this observance of Flag Day, let us rededicate ourselves to the flag of the United States of America, and may the principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity increase in each of us.” The Cortez Elks are one of the 29 flags that were in violation of the Flag Code on July 19.
I urge those who wish to rededicate themselves to the flag and principals of fidelity to read the Flag Code and to subscribe to one of the several websites and apps that provide half-staff notices.
Commendations go to the Port of Entry and to McDonald’s. Theirs were the only flags I saw lowered.