Old Glory

by Charlotte Purdy

In these most uncertain times when the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone questioning what tomorrow will bring, one thing that will always be certain is the proper techniques for flying and disposing the American Flag!

In 1776, Betsy Ross designed the original United States flag and now, more than 244 years later, the United States flag, often referred to as “Old Glory” still flies proudly in the wind across the nation.

“Old Glory” was first applied to the United States flag in 1824 when Capt. William Driver received a flag from his mother and a group of Salem girls in Salem, Mass. for his 21st birthday. When Capt. Driver retired from sailing and settled in Nashville, TN, he proudly flew “Old Glory” from a rope that extended from his house to a tree across the street.

In 1861 when Tennessee seceded from the Union, Capt. Driver hid the flag by sewing it inside a comforter but then in 1862 when Union soldiers entered Nashville, Capt. Driver carried the flag to the capitol building and raised it above the state capitol. Today, the US Flag is still proudly blowing in the breeze at government offices, schools, homes, libraries, and more.

However, over time the flags become tattered and need to be replaced. Knowing how to properly dispose of a tattered or torn flag is important. One of the first steps in retiring a flag is to ensure that it is folded in its customary manner, but any neat fold is acceptable when placing it in a disposal area.

The US flag should never touch the ground, fly upside down, be used as clothing, or marked on. If your flag does touch the ground, check for any soiling on the flag and if there is no damage you should continue flying it. If it becomes soiled or damaged, then please properly dispose of it.

Flags should NEVER be thrown into a dumpster, trash can or fire. Here in DeWitt, on the Court Square, there is a flag disposal box that is set up to allow community members to have a place to properly dispose of their retired flags. Please use it and do not discard them in dumpsters or trash containers. The American Legion Brown-Wright Post #158 hosts ceremonies to properly dispose of old flags. So please, be sure to drop off your retired flags in the disposal box.