With patriotic days approaching, now is an excellent time of year to replace worn-out American flags, veterans say



With patriotic days approaching, now is an excellent time of year to replace
worn-out American flags, veterans say
By Michael Picarella
Acorn Staff Writer

Armed Forces Day is Saturday, Memorial Day is just around the corner on May 26 and Flag Day will be on June 14. All three occasions are approaching, reminding Americans to display the Stars and Stripes. But many U.S. flags have become tattered with age and this upsets some citizens, especially veterans who fought for it and know when it’s time to retire old, faded or weather-beaten flags.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many Americans proudly displayed Old Glory on their homes and on their vehicles. But many flags permanently remained outdoors, exposed to the elements, which caused fraying and fading.

"The flag code says that the flag is to be treated like a living thing," said Thousand Oaks resident and Vietnam veteran Forrest Frields.

Citizens should treat the flag like it’s a respected friend, he said.

Frields, a self-proclaimed "flag expert," said he’s a firm believer in the United States Flag Code. He fought for Old Glory in Vietnam, even though he thought it was a "crummy war."

Flags shouldn’t be burned, Frields said, hung upside down and they shouldn’t be on flyers, banners or clothing, which can become crinkled up or discarded on the ground.

The flag’s colors or designs could be used on clothing and such, Frields said, but using the flag’s colors and designs with the flag’s specific proportions isn’t allowed by the flag code.

Others are just as passionate about the flag as Frields.

Acorn readers occasionally call the office to comment about what they perceive as disrespect for flags that are displayed on cars, homes and shopping centers. Even small flags deserve respect, according to veterans.

Frields said he occasionally sees car flags that have fallen on freeways. He wishes that he could have stopped and picked them up, he said.

"The flag is a symbol of what we have and comes to embody what is good," Frields said.

U.S. flags can be flown anytime, but always should be given proper care. Flags should be hoisted at sun up and taken down by dusk. If the flag stays up after nightfall, it should be illuminated, according to a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) spokesman.

The flag should never touch the ground. It should never fly lower than another flag, such as a state flag.

Weather-beaten U.S. flags should be retired. Several groups perform proper flag disposal ceremonies on a regular basis.

Anyone can drop off flags in bad shape to the following group locations:

•The Thousand Oaks Elks Lodge at 158 Conejo School Road, north of Thousand Oaks Boulevard

•The Moose Lodge (Moose Lodge, S. Oxnard Blvd., Oxnard)

•Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) facilities (VFW, 8107 Canoga Ave., Canoga Park)

•Disabled American Veterans (DAV) facilities (DAV, 6543 Corbin Ave., Woodland Hills)

   "We don’t defame other people," Frields said. "We shouldn’t defame the flag."

Frields and others want everyone to respect America’s symbol of freedom.

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