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Pro: U.S. flag remains an honored symbol for many

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
June 13, 2010 at 1:13 a.m.

Boy Scout Kyle Kucera, 8, clutches a fragment of the stripes of an American flag as he prepares to drop it into a fire pit during a flag retirement ceremony. Either burning or burying are the proper protocol for retiring the flag.

Certain groups, such as Scouts, still respect the flag as older generations did, according to a Boy Scout leader.

Scouts learn flag etiquette, how to fold it and the proper ceremonies early on, said K.B. Hallmark, vice president for the council of volunteers with the Scouts.

"And they learn from the start that we're serious about it," Hallmark said, smoothing his hair beneath his khaki-colored cap.

It's all part of the Scouting ethos, Hallmark said, explaining they believe a Scout owes duty to himself, his creator and his country.

Donaven Webb, a member of Cub Scout Troop 422, said he and his friends all respect the flag as they're supposed to.

"Every morning, we'll have a flag ceremony. We walk with the flag and we put it up," the 8-year-old said. "And, if it gets snagged on something, we get a new one so the flag doesn't have holes in it."

For others, the ongoing war keeps patriotic ideals at the forefront of people's minds, said Erica Slusher, a student who recently moved to Victoria from Florida.

"Sometimes I think people forget that, even when they don't agree with things the government does, they can still stand with the flag and be patriotic," she said. "I think that's what Flag Day is about."

From a historical viewpoint, honoring the flag is really a 20th century phenomenon, said Karen Hagan, associate professor of history at the Victoria College.

Most literature indicates that before the Civil War, honoring the flag was haphazard and largely up to the individual citizen, she said. Flags often came in different shapes and sizes, while some had stars sewn on basically wherever they might fit.

The national flag code, which dictates how to dispose of the flag, handle it and the like, dates back to the 1920s and was adopted by Congress in 1942, she added.

"The official way that we treat the flag is very recent in our history," Hagan said. "In a sense, we're more reverent about flags today than we were in 1910 or 1890 or 1840."

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