As you drive through many neighborhoods in Utah on days like Memorial Day, Flag Day, President’s Day, or Independence Day, you will see what appears to be an awesome display of patriotism. Early in the morning a group of young Scouts got together with a few leaders and posted an American Flag in the lawn of people who donated money to their organization. It really is quite an awesome display.
However, I am deeply concerned about how this is done. This morning as part of my duties as a Webelo’s Den Leader (co-leader with my lovely wife), I helped my Webelos and several other Cub Scouts place these flags in lawns in our neighborhood. However, what I saw when I got to the place they store the flags appalled me. The flags were not properly folded. Instead, they were rolled around the PVC pipe that is used as a flag pole. After further investigation I found out that the flags were semi-permanently mounted to the pole with a cable tie.
So, I am tempted to send this letter to our scout troops Charter Organization Representative.
Dear Charter Organization Representative,
The Boy Scouts of America is a great organization for teach boys a love of God, Country, and self. And after several years of involvement I have found that this is a great organization and I look forward to when my son can participate in the activities, leadership, and development that it provides. While, I generally don’t donate much to non-profit organizations, I usually will donate to the Boy Scouts.
However, I am concerned with a recent donation that I made to the Scouts (and the young women organization of the Church). I donated $30 to have a flag placed in the lawn of my home so that I could participate in the patriotic display of a neighborhood united in support of its Country and the men and women who fight and die for it.
On Memorial Day 2006, I had the opportunity as the Webelo’s Den Leader to help the Cub Scouts of your Charter place the flags around our neighborhood. And while the display was awesome, I am afraid that I was less than pleased with the process.
The proper way to store the American flag is with 13 folds leaving the field of stars visible. The most important reason for doing this is respect for the flag, our country, and the people who have fought for it. However, this will also extend the life of the flag by reducing the bumping of the flag against other poles and flags in storage.
The flags own and cared for by your Scouts are semi-permanently attached to the pole and cannot be removed without considerable effort. Thus, the flags can only be stored by rolling them up around the pole.
The only reason that I can see for not folding the flags is to save time. However, what message is this saying to our scouts? I believe that it tells the boys that their time is more important than their country. It changes the order of how I believe the Boy Scouts sees things. It puts self before country and not the other way around.
I respectfully request that the flag be folded before it is stored. If this is not possible, then I request that the flag no longer be placed in my yard. Please keep the $30 donation, but understand that I will not donate in the future.
Travis R Grant
Okay, now, I need you to reign me in here. Am I wrong? I tried to find information about the proper storage and respect of the flag, and I can’t find it anywhere. The closest I could come to an official statement is the U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1. However, there is no mention that the flag should be stored in the triangle fold. I did find one site that mentions folding as proper storage (see usflag.org). However, this is not an official site.
So, should I actually send the letter above? Should I make changes? Am I complete wrong? Am I right? (Like that’ll ever happen.) Should I st let it slide and allow the scouts to store the flag in a way that I find offensive? Should I add a comment about how I feel the boy need to be in their uniforms too, or would that be pushing it too far?
UPDATE (1 Jun 2006): I emailed the good peoople at ushistory.org, who run a great resource on the American Flag and Betsy Ross, and they told me that although the triangle fold isn’t necessary it is the most respectful. After a follow up email, they confirmed that just rolling the flag around the pole is not appropriate and shouldn’t be done.