A Few Words on Flag Etiquette
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and sincerely hope that none of you got blown away in that Las Vegas wind/rain/sand storm on Sunday. The vortex theory never had a chance against that evil display by Mother Nature. We at home were treated to several short but rather amusing videos of things and people losing orientation and grip… canopies leaving for parts unknown, umbrellas turning inside out and defying a return to normal… even crews were cautioned not to sit on the pit wall because if the wind blew them off on the track side, it would constitute a penalty for too many men over the wall. Then, of course, there was Michael Waltrip’s hair, which will be left without comment.
Every driver and crew member interviewed marveled at the strength and force of the ubiquitous wind that covered the entire area from green flag to checkered flag… and even to American flag. Ah, do you think you know where this is going? Please read on, as you might be mistaken.
It was brought to my attention after Sunday’s race by a sweet young girl that some folks on Twitter were all “atwitter” and had their knickers in a knot because race winner, Brad Keselowski, to their way of thinking somehow disrespected the American Flag. To those tweeting twits, I’d like to simply say, “Get over it.” Your protests are weak, baseless and less than bright.
The following comes from the American Legion website, http://www.legion.org/flag/faq
“The Flag Code states that the flag should not touch anything beneath it, including the ground. This is stated to indicate that care should be exercised in the handling of the flag, to protect it from becoming soiled or damaged. You are not required to destroy the flag when this happens. As long as the flag remains suitable for display, even if washing or dry-cleaning is required, you may continue to display the flag as a symbol of our great country.”
That’s it, gentle readers. The flag code does not deal with nor does it suggest punishment for accidents caused by man or the elements. When Brad took the American flag, he secured it in a holder within the car that has been used on many occasions for just such a purpose. That is certainly “exercising care” in this aged mind. Many teams have those holders, as they allow the driver to use two hands on the steering wheel while the flag flies freely out the window.
Conditions on Sunday were like no other in the history of NASCAR racing, or so we’re told. I wasn’t here for quite all of it… at least at an age when I was going to races. The holder that had always before held the flag securely was weakened by the force of the wind and the flag fell to the track behind the car. The driver, Brad Keselowski, immediately slammed on his brakes, stopped the car, unhooked his belts and HANS, removed his steering wheel and alighted from the car on a dead run back to retrieve the flag and save it from further abuse.
Almost simultaneously, the Twitter birds began to tweet about disrespecting the flag, and I can only suppose some or most of that was done in the usual 4-letter words and abusive style employed by Twitter trolls, many of whom are the same nasty little troll-like characters that infect a large number of the posting boards and forums that populate today’s Internet.
What, exactly, would you have wanted Brad to do when faced with the situation? A part failed! It happens in racing, and it happens in life. I love the answer that Brad gave to one of the tweeting twits whose words had been erased by Twitter. “The apology is stopping right-a-way and picking it up.” That sort of makes one wonder what the twit was demanding. Was he supposed to fling himself down on the ground and await the stoning? Brad Keselowski did absolutely nothing wrong regarding the American flag. In fact, he did everything right. He retrieved the errant flag from the grips of Mother Nature and returned it to its proper position of respect.
I can’t prove this, but every grey cell in my brain is telling me that the folks coming down on Brad for his supposed “disrespect” are a lot of the same folks that loudly applaud the lack of talent and complete lack of respect for America evinced by past graduates of “The Voice”, “American Idol” and such, while offering badly butchered “renditions” of our National Anthem almost weekly. Memorial Day will be here soon enough, and we’ll be once again be featuring my tale of the birth of the “Star Spangled Banner” and pleading with NASCAR to take a hand and assure that our flag and nation are no longer disrespected by talent… or lack thereof.
As Porky Pig would say, “Th-that’s all folks!” We won’t be doing a Classic Country Closeout today, as this column is an “extra”, but I do have one song that is a long-time favorite and always deserves a listen. This is Johnny Cash, offering you “Ragged OId Flag.”
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!