By Tamas Mondovics
To raise the flag in front of the school each morning, and lower and fold it each afternoon is an opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and citizenship on the part of students that have accepted the assignment Flag Duty is also the assignment that 13-year old Johnson County Middle School student, Andrew Reece has been conscientiously performing each school day for the past two years.Andrew, and his Flag Duty teammate Donnie Curd, 13, enjoyed the spotlight and some much-deserved recognition last week when Tennessee Rep. Timothy Hill visited the school bearing gifts by bringing a brand new American flag to be flown over the schoolyard. The visit was the result of Andrew’s direct letter to Hill’s office requesting a new flag after the young student noticed that the one flown over the school is damaged.
“I was lowering our flag, and I saw that it was ripped and felt that we needed to have a new one,” Andrew said, adding, “I decided to write to a letter and ask our state representative if we could get a new flag.”
Impressed by the diligence, Hill did not hesitate to respond and personally present Andrew with a new American flag along with a recognition letter acknowledging Andrew’s commitment and hard work on behalf of his school, community, and country.
“We do get a lot of calls for a flag, but this was different; something that we do not get often,” Hill said. “I really appreciated Andrew’s request and effort of personally writing to us, which demonstrated his commitment to his assignment and patriotism.”
Hill added that he enjoyed seeing the young student’s strong concern for his community. But Hill was not done bearing gifts just yet. Aside from the new American flag and a recognition letter, Hill also gave Andrew a Tennessee State flag, which he said “was actually flown over the state capitol. Following the presentation, Andre and Donnie proudly lowered the tattered flag to replace it with the new one to be flown above the Johnson County Middle and High Schools in Mountain City.
For those who think that Flag Duty, or to properly take care of the nation’s flag is a simple task might want to review a few flag etiquettes that include some specific standards.
The Flag Code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which respect is given to the flag, containing instructions on how the flag is not to be used. Here are some important ones to remember:
•The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
•When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag, it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
•The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary. When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, and by burning in a dignified manner should destroy it. Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a solemn flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well.
•The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily, it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
•The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music whichever is the longest.
For more information on flag etiquette, please visit www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.