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Finding unity under the American flag during COVID-19

Some moments are etched in our national memory — and the American flag stands at the center of them. Six U.S. Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima during World War II. Buzz Aldrin saluting the flag on the moon’s surface in 1969. Three New York firefighters hoisting the flag above the rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11. The American flag is an icon that unites us all.

Every year, on June 14, Americans have the opportunity to honor this national symbol. Flag Day, which commemorates the day the U.S. flag was first adopted, June 14, 1777, serves as a timeless reminder of the nation’s shared freedom and solidarity, and all those who protect us. This year, like many times in history, the Stars and Stripes are proving their strength in fighting a new and invisible enemy — COVID-19.

As the pandemic has threatened the lives of America’s most vulnerable populations, the flag has been a vital part of the nation’s response — appearing in the windows of people’s homes, marking miles of neighborhood and city streets, adorning the storefronts of businesses everywhere. One story tells of a man who began carrying it on his runs as a means to honor frontline workers and inspire those who saw him.

Across these examples, the sight of the flag brings the service and sacrifice of military service members into clear view. All those who work, fight and give of themselves tirelessly to the safety and security of this nation and every citizen. The flag’s use as a sign of unity during this challenging time is the ultimate expression of this country’s freedoms.

“When our troops are deployed, the image that unites them in their mission is our flag standing tall and waving free,” says American Legion Auxiliary National Americanism Committee Chair Denise Conrad. “Our flag stands for justice, freedom and democracy — the cornerstones of Americanism and patriotism.”

The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) seeks to advocate for veterans and their families and on military issues, and to provide opportunities for Americans to demonstrate their love of country and patriotism. Through learning opportunities and educational resources, the ALA provides people with tools to become engaged, proud citizens who make a positive impact for the benefit of veterans and their country. Across the organization, members find ways to support and promote the American flag as an icon of democracy — distributing pocket flags to troops overseas, donating flags to local schools and businesses and participating in the Citizens Flag Alliance.

This Flag Day, as you proudly display your American flag and show your appreciation for all it represents, remember these simple U.S. Flag Code rules:

  • When hoisting or lowering the flag, salute or place a hand over your heart.
  • The flag should not be displayed on rainy days unless it is an all­-purpose flag.
  • When lowered, the flag should never touch anything beneath it.
  • When a flag is tattered or torn, it has served its useful purpose and “should be destroyed, preferably by burning.” Many American Legion posts conduct disposal of unserviceable flag ceremonies on June 14, Flag Day. Such ceremonies are particularly dignified and solemn occasions for the retirement of unserviceable flags.

The American flag is a symbol of solidarity and comfort — particularly for those who have risked their lives defending their country. No matter the nature of the challenges faced — from unseen threats to visible dangers — the flag stands in tribute to all those who are on the frontlines protecting freedoms and to the spirit and the resilience of the American people.

For more information on how you can volunteer, join or donate to the American Legion Auxiliary, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.

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