Friday, August 28, 2015
U.S. Flag: To Wash or Not To Wash
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?