The American Flag is a perpetual symbol of independence, freedom and liberty. It is a declaration of the sovereignty of the United States. Old Glory flies high atop her pole as the ultimate icon of truth, justice and democracy. Our flag is a standing reminder that our nation is a republic, which broke away from the grip of tyranny, in order to form a more perfect union.
The American Flag soars over our federal buildings and welcomes us to our national monuments. It lines the streets of our cities and leads the way in our parades. Our flag flies proudly at our job sites, our schools and our places of worship. Our National Ensign sways in the wind aboard our naval vessels and greets us at the gates of our military posts.
The American Flag personifies the patriotism of our elected officials and our government employees. It is a reminder of the commitment and dedication of our nation's police officers and fire fighters. The Stars and Stripes also represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of every American who has served in our armed forces and it drapes the coffins of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Our flag is all of this and much more. It is many things to many people. However, one thing the American Flag was never meant to be is the symbol of a state mandated protest against war. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening right here in Michigan.
Governor Granholm has abused her authority by using the American Flag to stir up animosity toward the Bush Administration's management of the war in Iraq. Ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff every time a service member from Michigan is killed in combat is not authorized by the U.S. Flag Code and yet, that is exactly what she has done. Can you imagine this being national policy? The flag would be at half-staff every day for ten years, just because of the war in Iraq.
The Governor has confused a great number of Michiganders regarding the historical purpose of our National Ensign and has bewildered the state's flag owners with her half-staff protest. On any given day, you can drive down the city streets of any Michigan town and find some flags at full-staff and others at half-staff. Sometimes, these opposing posts will be on adjacent properties. The spirit of the flag has been severely darkened and the significance of lowering the flag to half-staff has been profoundly diminished by this deviation from protocol.
While it is acceptable for individuals to lower their personal flags because of the loss of a loved one, it is inappropriate for the governor to abuse the power of her office in this way. The U.S. Flag Code does not grant her the authority to disparage the American Flag under the guise of honoring our fallen service members. If the policy were meant to be used this way, every flag in the country would stay at half-staff every day. In fact, it would take 95 years just to honor those who died on Iwo Jima, thus eliminating the significance of lowering the flag.
If you have not done so recently, I would ask you to read the U.S. Flag Code. Be sure to look up the half-staff requirements and a governor's authority in subparagraph (m). While you are there, read the segment on Memorial Day. Even on the national holiday for honoring our fallen heroes, the flag is to be lowered to half-staff only until noon, then briskly raised back to the top of it's pole.
Governor Granholm's policy may appear to serve an honorable purpose, but after reading the U.S. Flag Code, one cannot help but question her motives. If Michigan cannot convince her to retract this policy, Michiganders should at least stop participating in her protest. We should all disregard her calls to lower our flags and instead abide by the federal policy. As for me, I have not and will not lower my American Flag at the command of a pretentious and seditious Canadian.