Rituals mark Flag Day

Saturday, June 14, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Jim Haney, a Marine Corps veteran, lowered the flag in front of his Chaffee, Mo., home at the end of the day Friday.

For most Americans, today is Flag Day.

For Jim Haney of Chaffee, Mo., every day is Flag Day. He sees the Old Glory as a living, breathing symbol of sacrifice.

Haney, 64 and a Vietnam veteran, gets emotional and stops talking to regain his composure. Bonnie Haney, his wife of nearly 44 years, sums up all the flag means to her in a word: pride.

After serving in the U.S. Marines for 30 years and traveling the world, Haney and his wife returned to Missouri in 1990, settling into a routine at their Helen Street home. He installed a flagpole on the lawn, where he raises the flag daily at 8 a.m. and lowers it at sunset. He usually folds it into a neat triangle and sets it on the grandfather clock in his living room. But on rainy days, like Friday, he puts the flag on a hanger so it will dry before morning.

At 6:30 p.m. today, members of the American Legion will perform a mock ceremony to demonstrate proper flag disposal in the dining hall of the Missouri Veterans Home, according to John Powers, a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War.

He said the demonstration is open to the public and intended "to bring attention to the flag and to make sure respect is shown. When they're worn out it shouldn't be like throwing an old pair of shoes away."

Haney served on more color guards as a master gunnery sergeant than he can count, sometimes as the rifleman, sometimes as the flag man.

He can recite from memory many rules for proper flag display. A flag should be lowered slowly and reverently, he said, but raised briskly, because it wants to fly freely. When displayed on a wall, the starry blue field should always be on the observer's left.

He said people should understand a flag should never be left overnight on an unlighted pole, or allowed to touch the ground or get faded and frayed. It bothers him when people neglect to properly display or dispose of flags.

Bob Neff said he's proud to display a 15-by-25-foot flag constantly -- and well-lighted at night -- at his Ford Groves dealership.

"We try to get every last day out of the flag," he said. "We'll get calls when it starts to get weathered to take it down."

He replaces it two or three times a year and said two people are needed to get it off the aluminum flagpole -- three if it's windy. The pole has never broken.

"I swear to God, I've looked at it and thought, man, it's going to snap," he said, adding, "It was welded after stretch marks were noticed."

Waubeka, Wis., claims to be the birthplace of Flag Day, because teacher Bernard John Cigrand starting pushing for flag awareness in 1893. The National Flag Day Foundation is based there, and a parade with more than 100 entries is planned for today.

Flag Day marks the anniversary of the June 14, 1777, Flag Resolution adopting the Stars and Stripes as the national flag. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 Flag Day in 1916. President Harry Truman signed the 1949 bill making June 14 an annual National Flag Day.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

Respecting the flag

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