EDITORIAL: On National Peace Officers Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day, it's time to inspect and properly fly flags

·3 min read

May 15—Today (May 15) is National Armed Forces Day as well as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. In Grand Forks, both have great significance.

As a community served by Grand Forks Air Force Base, we understand the importance of our nation's military, not only as the defender of the nation but as fellow citizens and neighbors. And as a community that last year saw the death of an on-duty police officer and a serious injury to a deputy sheriff, we have witnessed first-hand how our local peace officers have made the greatest sacrifices while serving and protecting the people.

Nearly a year ago, on May 27, 2020, Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte died while aiding other law-enforcement officers who came under gunfire while serving an eviction notice. Also injured that day was Deputy Sheriff Ron Nord, who recovered from his wounds.

That sad anniversary is fast approaching, and on it, all residents of the city should take a moment to think about the dangerous work officers do every day.

And today, in conjunction with Peace Officers Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day, residents and businesses should fly an American flag with pride to commemorate both events. President Joe Biden has called on all U.S. governors, and officials of all government units, to fly flags at half staff in honor of those officers who have died while serving their country. He also encourages "all Americans to display the flag from their homes and businesses on that day."

Considering the importance of May 15 and other upcoming patriotic days — including Memorial Day (May 31), Flag Day (June 14) and the Fourth of July — now is a good time to inspect all flags and ensure they are in proper condition. There are strict rules to follow when properly disposing of flags, laid out well on the national VFW website, including: fold the flag in its customary manner; place the flag in a fire; come to attention, salute and recite the Pledge of Allegiance; and bury the ashes. We suggest reaching out to your local VFW post to seek guidance.

Further, here are a few notes from the "flag code" section of the national American Legion's website:

—It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated.

—The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.

—The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

—The flag should never touch anything beneath it.

—On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

—The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, or in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

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