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To the editor:
As a veteran, longtime member of several veterans’ organizations, former Vietnam Veterans of America color guard member and a career journalist, I have an enduring interest in honoring the American flag and following the U.S. Flag Code.

Over the years, I have seen numerous instances in which the U.S. Flag Code was disregarded — often unintentionally but sometimes capriciously. Frequently, I have sought to bring attention to such actions and add some enlightenment regarding the proper display of our flag.

Common occurrences have included flying the American flag at half-staff upon the death of a popular sports figure, local politician or a young person lost in a tragedy. As you might imagine, drawing attention to such improper displays can result in contempt for the messenger rather than proper respect for the American flag.

So when I read that Carrollton Mayor Frank Leghart had lowered the flag on the square to honor the death of former Police Chief Raymond McAfee, I took interest. In my heart, as in the heart of the mayor, the fact that the former police chief also was a decorated military veteran would warrant patriotic respect. But the U.S. Flag Code only grants authority for ordering the flag lowered to the president and the state governors, and the guidelines for whom and for how long it may be displayed at half-staff are clearly spelled out.

To error is human. To publicly apologize for errors, as Mayor Leghart did in a letter to the editor, takes courage. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve seen such a sincere apology over improperly displaying the American flag at half-staff. I respect him for that.

Dave Lange
Malvern, OH

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