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Students get lesson on handling, displaying Old Glory

November 11, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Burke Street School's fourth- and fifth-graders were presented with a new American flag Wednesday and given a lesson on how to care for it.

Martinsburg residents Paul C. Arvin and Al Tippett from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 896 taught almost 40 children how to care for the flag and what it represents during a 30-minute presentation on the eve of Veterans Day.

"We fought for that flag, but most of all we fought for you. We fought for you so you could be here today. So always have the greatest respect for that flag," said Arvin, 63, a veteran of the Korean War.

The flag should never be worn as a shirt or any other piece of clothing, nor should it be used as a tablecloth, Arvin said.

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Fifth-grader Michell Henderson, 10, was presented with a new American flag for the school.

Principal Dean Warrenfeltz said the old flag, which was not in good condition, will be given to the VFW so it can be disposed of properly.

Arvin told the youngsters that when an American flag gets torn, it should be taken to a VFW post so it can be properly burned in a steel box and buried.

If they ever need a new flag for the school, they shouldn't hesitate to call the VFW or American Legion, Arvin said.

"They don't cost us that much and we want to do it," he said.

The American flag should be flown before other flags, such as the school flag, Arvin said. The only exception is at church, he said.

Arvin told the children even he didn't know everything about the flag and had for years been wearing his American flag pin incorrectly.

It's supposed to be worn with the flag facing the heart, he said.

According to Arvin and an American flag etiquette handout, other etiquette tips are:

- Turn the eagle atop the flag so it faces front.

- Don't let the flag touch the ground.

- Display the flag from sunrise to sunset. If the flag is flown after sunset, it should be illuminated.

- Raise the flag quickly and lower it slowly.

- Don't fly the flag upside down unless there's an emergency.

- Don't use the flag as a drapery, drawn back or in folds.

- Don't lay anything on the flag.

- Face the flag to salute it and during the National Anthem.

The Martinsburg High School chapter of the Berkeley County Air Force Junior ROTC demonstrated how to unfold and fold the flag, keeping it taut.

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