By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Each morning as I come into work from the Painttown area, I come through downtown Cherokee. Lately, I’ve noticed more and more tattered U.S. flags in downtown and some in other parts of the Qualla Boundary.
First off, flying a tattered flag goes against the U.S. Flag Code. Section 8(k) states, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
Patsy Everhart Ledford, American Legion Post 143 Auxiliary president, notes that there are two flag disposal boxes on the porch at the Post 143 headquarters located off of Acquoni Road in the Yellowhill Community. “People are encouraged to fold the flag and put them in those boxes, and then they will be disposed of properly,” she said.
Ledford also related that programs and entities of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians can receive a replacement flag from the Post if theirs needs to be replaced.
Some of the condition of the flags seen around the Boundary could be different if they were taken down each night and hoisted each morning. Some are left up year-round and simply wear away. U.S. Flag Code Section 6(a) states, “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”
An example of proper illumination can be found at the Cherokee Veterans Park adjacent to the Cherokee Council House. The flags there are lit at night in the proper manner.
“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”
That quote has been attributed to Bernard J. Cigrand, widely known as the “Father of Flag Day” who started the observance at his school where he taught in Waubeka, Wisc. In 1885. The sentiment rings as true today as it did then, and that is why taking care of the flag is so important.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that you will not be judged nor chastised for turning in an old, tattered flag. They get old. They tatter. You will be praised for doing the right thing, and if enough people do this and replace those old flags with new ones, the Qualla Boundary will look that much better. Even if it’s just a little – a little is a little more.
For more information on proper flag disposal on the Qualla Boundary, contact Patsy Everhart Ledford at 736-8512.