Stan Spangle Sr.: There’s history behind respect for our flag

May. 23, 2013 @ 08:55 PM

This past Monday I received my June issue of The American Legion Magazine. The COMMANDER’s Message, on page 8, caught my attention. National Commander, James E. Koutz’s, message dealt with a code for the proper display, handling and respect of the U.S. flag.
According to the article, Garland W. Powell, a former World War I aviator who went on to serve as director of The American Legion’s Americanism Division, arranged an unusual conference in Washington on June 14-15, 1923. Invited were representatives of 68 different associations from across the land, ranging from the League of Professional Pen Women to the Grand Army of the Republic, to the American Federation of Labor. Military, commercial, fraternal and educational organizations were all included.
President Warren G. Harding delivered opening remarks, noting that America’s highest elected official would rarely address a group so small as the one assembled before him. But, President Harding explained, he felt the purpose of the conference was worthy of presidential encouragement before work began. Regardless of their associations, many attendees were veterans, and President Harding recognized that, too.
Over the next two days, the American Legion-led conference established what would become the U.S. Flag Code. “The flag ruffles beautifully or makes a splendid-looking rosette,” said Capt. George M. Chandler, who reported on the U.S. Army’s rules for civilian flag display. For the next 19 years, The American Legion led a national campaign to distribute the flag rules. Local government activities were guided by them, as were parades and sporting events. Finally, in 1942, Congress passed the U.S. Flag Code and the rules became law. Dates to remember: Memorial Day is this coming Monday and Flag Day is June 14.
A big OoRah! This is great news from The Retired Enlisted Association — the Department of Veterans Affairs says NO BONUSES for senior officials. A spokesman for the VA recently announced that senior officials who oversee disability claims will not be given bonuses this year. Instead, the money will be used to help reduce the backlog of claims.
Bonuses should never have been allowed, as long as there was a backlog. Maybe we squealed long enough and loud enough to be heard by Gen. Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs. A total of $2.8 million was paid out in senior executive bonuses in fiscal year 2011. The number of claims pending for longer than 125 days ballooned from less than 200,000 to nearly 500,000 in fiscal 2011.
The Associated Press  reported that the VA and other federal departments routinely give bonuses to senior executive service employees who are not political appointees. Political appointees are not eligible. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., was quoted as saying that he is pleased that the bonuses will be withheld. “ One can only wonder what effect this sort of policy may have had if the VA had instituted it years ago,” Miller stated.
Pray for the families of the fallen.
Semper Fi.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.