Friday, August 28, 2015

U.S. Flag: To Wash or Not To Wash

The Man and I elected to establish an American Flag--the U.S. Flag, which ever you prefer--on the front of our house within a month of purchasing it several years ago. We have flown it nearly every day since, only removing it for days with high winds. The all-weather flag is also lit by a dedicated solar spotlight during the dark hours. We both know the Flag Code and take the responsibility of flying the flag seriously.

After last summer, we retired our first flag and acquired a new one. The old flag hangs in the garage (off the ground!) waiting for an opportunity to go to the American Legion for permanent dispatch. This old flag has a pretty large rip between some stripes, and even with my sewing skills, I just couldn't patch it properly.

The new flag is a year old now and has been waving all summer through Oregon's hot, dry, smoky madness. I have pondered the idea of washing the flag, but I run into a few problems. No where in the Flag Code does it say that a flag cannot or should not be washed. On the other hand, the flag should not touch the ground or be lowered disrespectfully. I'm not sure that throwing the flag in the washing machine with dirty clothes is the most respectful thing either.

Part of me is also saying "It's just a piece of fabric!" The flag is a symbol, not a relic or antique or prized possession. We've left it outside to get filthy all summer in the name of patriotism. Taking the flag inside to wash it and make it look better isn't any worse.

My plan is to take the flag to my big bathtub and wash it by hand (not with other dirty clothes) and line dry it inside. Technically a bathtub isn't the "ground," and washing it by hand is more gentle than the machine. If I use some Oxyclean to brighten the colors and remove the filth, I should achieve a respectful clean, right?

Am I being patriotic by cleaning the flag and rehanging it, or am I being disrespectful by lowering the flag into water?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jaggy,
I served in the Marine Corps for five years before an injury ended my short career. I would like to offer my point of view:
If your flag is looking dingy, washing it is quite appropriate. I know that my husband (a sailor) and I have washed ours. We always wash it in a load all its own, cool water, with a mild detergent. If it has a stain, you can soak it in cool water with OxiClean for a few hours before washing. We always hang it to dry.
If you are unsure, you can take it to a dry cleaner. Some dry cleaners will even take care of it for free.

Thank you for your support.
Semper Fidelis