Flying the American flag upside down is an officially recognizedsignal of distress.
Here is the relevant part of the US Code regarding how to fly the flag when in distress:
THE UNITED STATES FLAG CODE
Title 4, Chapter 1
- 8(a)The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
So, if the flag is flown upside down, and life or property are not in extreme danger, what possible meaning could it have? The only possible explanation I could come up with is this: disrespect. Blatant improper display of the flag, though protected by the 1stAmendment, is not merely a speech pattern. It is a sign of having no respect for the flag, the nation for which it stands, or the sacrifices made to keep it flying.
One of the most recognizable variations of the American flag is one that I have on my vehicle. My wife has one. Many Americans have one. I am referring of course, to the Thin Blue Line flag. I have two brothers, a nephew and multiple friends in the law enforcement community. Even if that were not the case, I would still support and ‘back the blue’.
Sidebar: I live in Texas. We are still, as a state, ardent supporters of our nation, our Constitutional rights, our flag, our military and our emergency responder communities. So many things I hear about on the news are happening in some far away place. I lay my head down at night, grateful to be in Texas…where those things would never happen.
Until they do.
This past Saturday, while looking for a parking space at the mall, I caught a Thin Blue Line flag out of the corner of my eye, but for all the wrong reasons. The flag was displayed upside down. All I kept thinking was please let them be from out of state. Nope! Texas plate. Texas dealership emblem. I pointed it out to my 15-year-old daughter. All she could say was “that is MESSED up!”
Obviously, the owner was looking to make a statement. “Law Enforcement is in a state of distress and/or they fear for their lives and property to be in peril at the hands of law enforcement”.
Is the law enforcement community in a state of distress? Absolutely not. The men in women in uniform work non-stop to not only do their jobs effectively, but also to strengthen the trust their communities have in them. They do so often while being insulted and threatened. Far too often, officers are threatened, humiliated and treated like they are sub-human. Yet, they get up the next day to do it again.
Every last bit of my being wanted to get out and remove the sticker, put it on correctly or leave a note detailing my disgust with their complete lack of respect. Every last bit of my being also wants to show my children the right way to act and respond in situations such as these. So I merely commented, took a picture and went on my way. Truth be told, I was disheartened by what I saw. It made me sick to my stomach that this would be displayed by a Texan. I lost a little faith in humanity Saturday.
We parked and went inside. My daughter went off to meet her friends. My 6 year old son and I started for the pet store. As we were headed to the escalator, we passed two of Shenandoah, TX finest. Without any prompting, my son walked up to them and held out his hand to one of them. As the officer shook his hand, my son said “Thank you for being policemen and keeping us safe”. The officer asked my son’s name, then told him his. My son then proceeded to tell the officers about what we had seen in the parking lot. Without skipping a beat, he said “But it’s ok, my dad is going to write about it in a policeman magazine”. After receiving a puzzled look from the officers, I explained that I have to extreme pleasure of writing for Law Enforcement Today, and that I would be writing an article highlighting this encounter. This officer simply smiled and said “thank you”.
So to each of you in uniform, I say the same thing that I said to these two on Saturday. You are respected. You are loved. You are prayed for. You are valued. You are cherished. And while there are some who would disagree, I know that you will protect them and serve them just as professionally as you do those of us who have your back.
Thank you for answering the call, day after day. It does not go unnoticed.