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Our View: Long may it wave

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 11, 2014
  • Longboat Key
  • Opinion
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Surely, we’re not alone in thinking that we, as Americans, are having our American ideals and patriotism tested to new limits lately.

And now this one: the Bergdahl for Taliban terrorists, which occurred in front of the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Talk about mixed messages.

There are the older generations who lived through WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War and who understand the threat of authoritarian communism versus liberty. And then there is 9/11 generation, after which thousands and thousands of young men and women responded to the call of volunteering to defend their country against Islamic terrorism.

But over these past six years, if you are a newcomer to Americanism, it would be difficult to say what America stands for in the world.

That’s all the more reason to emphasize such occasions as our nation’s role in D-Day; honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day; or celebrating on July 4 the birth of what, until recent years, has been the freest place on earth.

It’s all the more reason to have organizations like the Military Officers Association of Sarasota doing what they are doing: teaching students (and adults) about the origin, history and meaning of the American flag and the proper etiquette and respect it deserves.

Since October 2013, the Military Officers Association — with help from local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, Sons of the American Revolution, the Vietnam Brotherhood and American Legion posts — has introduced into 10 Sarasota County public elementary schools a 10-lesson course on the flag for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Tom Piazze, first vice president of the Military Officers Association of Sarasota, says the course has received enthusiastic response from students and teachers alike and is optimistic it will spread to all of the county’s 27 public elementary schools.

We need efforts like this for our youth. They need to be taught and reminded again and again the values and symbols that made America a role model for the world.

They need to know how and why we wave the flag — not just on Flag Day (this Saturday, June 14), but every day.

+ Pressure is really on now

It’s probably safe to say most people believe everyone deserves a second chance. Certainly that’s the case in one instance with the Longboat Key Town Commission.

After one-on-one conversations with recently resigned Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale, commissioners unanimously agreed last week to let Portale come back.

Portale submitted a letter of resignation May 19, citing her relationship with the Town Commission as not a good fit.

Yes, there were a few rough spots, the most significant being the postponement of a public nuisance hearing on the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at Temple Beth Israel because of insufficient public notice.
Apparently, Mooney-Portale took reactions to that and a few other critical signals from a minority of commissioners that Longboat Key wasn’t the place for her.

So she decided to quit — at a meeting at which Mayor Jim Brown was absent.

When Brown learned of her resignation, he and other commissioners expressed their support for her and let her know they wanted her to stay.

Paraphrasing actress Sally Field’s Oscar speech — “Oh, they really do love me” — Mooney-Portale was persuaded to stay.

She may not realize it, but by coming back Mooney-Portale has put even more pressure on herself:

• She cannot let commissioners down and embarrass them with subpar performance — making them look like they made a mistake.

• Hopefully, she has learned if she is to practice in a public arena, even one as small as Longboat Key, she’ll need to toughen up. What she experienced so far with the Town Commission is hardly a test of future challenges that are sure to occur.


Flag Day is believed to have originated in 1885, when a Fredonia, Wis., schoolteacher, B.J. Cigrand, arranged for the students in that district to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday.” That was on the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the nation’s flag.

But it wasn’t until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Harry S Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

The flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes — representing the original 13 colonies; the stars represent the 50 states. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. The flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

Unless specified by a governor or president, the only day a flag officially is flown at half-staff is Memorial Day, and then only until noon.

The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff. The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. A lapel flag pin should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

The Military Officers Association of Sarasota and the Sarasota County Veterans Commission will conduct a flag collection and retirement ceremony June 28 for unserviceable flags at the Sarasota National Cemetery in conjunction with the opening of Patriot Plaza.

According to proper flag code, when a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, preferably by burning in a discreet manner so the act is not perceived as a protest or desecration.
Many American Legion posts conduct Disposal of Unserviceable Flag Ceremonies on June 14, Flag Day, each year.


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