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My Flag Thrives In The Dark


US flag in stiff breeze at night

I propose we honor the US flag by not lighting it at night. Rather, let the stars of the Union fly with their stellar brethren.


Looking for a symbol to represent the ideal of statehood, our nation's founders chose the star. In the position of honor, fifty stars now represent fifty states on the US flag.


Within Title 4 of United States Code (USC) is Flag Code language added in 1942 that calls for illuminating the flag "when a patriotic effect is desired." It's an odd phrase, since the mere act of running Old Glory up the yardarm is a patriotic act in itself.


I suggest a more patriotic way to serve our nation is to fly the flag freely and unilluminated. If you truly want to honor the women and men of the Armed Forces, consume less energy and lessen the need to put our troops who protect the flag in harm's way. If you want to lessen light pollution and its ensuing harm, dial back the uplighting.


The United States Code Section 178 gives the US President authority to make changes:

"Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief..."


While some may decry ending the nighttime tradition, public attitude about other Flag Code statements suggest it may be time to revisit the USC Title 4. For example, Flag Code insists the flag always fly free and never be displayed horizontally. Nonetheless, most of us have seen images of a giant US flag stretched across a football field while held aloft by military personnel.


My flag is not afraid of the dark. Rather, it thrives in darkness. By day, I want to see the stars of my flag. By night, I want to see the stars.

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