This letter is in response to Ms. Beckstrand’s guest comment regarding the showing of proper respect for Old Glory. ("Show proper respect for Old Glory" - Click here) I wholeheartedly agree that it is dismaying and frustrating to see the lack of respect often shown when the U.S. flag is being presented at ceremonies. I know that on occasion, it may even be displayed improperly. I think this is in part due to the common wording, as Ms. Beckstand used, when she said that the flag should be placed “on the right of the stage.”
Unless the reader has theatrical experience, they might literally interpret this to mean the right side of the stage, rather than “stage right.” Perhaps to avoid confusion, a simpler statement is that the U.S. flag should always be displayed to the right of the speaker. However, Ms.Beckstrand might need to review the U.S. Code regarding flag regulations herself, as she was incorrect in stating that the U.S. flag should be to the right of the state flag. Newer regulations indicate that the state flag should be placed on the opposite, or left, side of the speaker.
I am not so self-righteous or indignant to where I cannot admit to violating the U.S. Code. Believe it or not, wearing a shirt, jacket, tie or jewelry with a depiction of the U.S. flag is breaking the code. I do not feel that it is with the desire to disrespect our flag, but as a sign of patriotism and the spirit in which it is intended.
Regarding Ms. Beckstrand’s other issue, I disagree with her admonishment that the “public education system does not teach nor exemplify patriotism and respect.” (First of all, respect is a moral obligation for parents to model and teach.) Apparently Ms. Beckstrand has never stepped foot inside of my fifth-grade classroom. If she had, she would see my students standing to pledge allegiance to the flag on a daily basis with their right hand placed over their heart. They don’t just recite the words; they know the meaning.
They also know why the U.S. flag is placed to the left of them, but to the right of where I stand and teach daily. If they paid attention, they could also tell you what conditions should be met in order to display a flag at night and why a U.S. flag patch worn by a soldier appears to be backward. Any fifth-grader should be able to tell you what the difference is between a patriot and a loyalist and the history regarding the birth of our nation.
Ms. Beckstrand, you can certainly bet that I have not lost a teaching moment with the young adults in my public school classroom and neither have the majority of my colleagues.
Jill Shodeen, Brentwood