Happy Flag Day 2018! In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th as U.S. Flag Day. He did so to officially honor the adoption of the U.S. Flag by the Second Continental Congress on that day, 1777.

Ever since, many communities host associated parades and memorials. Coincidentally, it’s also the birthday of the U.S. Army.

With all due respect to other national flags, a U.S. citizen waving the U.S. flag is a picture worth a thousand words. That’s because in addition to being the patriotism symbol of choice, our flag reminds us of our long history. In short, the Stars and Stripes has stood the test of time, notwithstanding the bumpy road in building our great nation, most especially after the civil war. Indeed, few flags around the globe are as recognizable as the red, white, and blue.

Through both world wars and numerous human interest conflicts, such as the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, the U.S. flag stamped on food packages delivered to people in need symbolizes our nation’s willingness to help others around the world. Truly, it best represents what a united people of diverse backgrounds can accomplish.

In that respect, each of us has her/his own way to honor our flag and we heartily wave it throughout the year. Unfortunately, the U.S. flag is also quite regularly disrespected. How?

Honestly, most of it is unintentional, simply because some people don’t follow flag etiquette rules. So, this Flag Day, following are a few dos and don’ts. While some may be familiar and basic common sense, nonetheless, the reminder is well worth it.

To begin with, the U.S. Flag may be displayed at all hours of the day. Should you choose to display your front yard flag 24/7, however, remember that the flag must be properly illuminated (spotlight) during hours of darkness.

Also, if at all possible, don’t display the flag during inclement weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or wind, unless it’s an all-weather flag (made for exterior use). In the event your flag gets wet, the best way to dry it is to bring it indoors. Then, spread it out until it completely dries before you put it away for storage. Never fold a wet or damp flag.

If you wish to display your flag on a wall, horizontally or vertically, be sure that the union (the blue field with the 50 stars) is to the top and to the flag’s own right (viewer’s left). Additionally, the flag must not touch the ground, water, or any item. The flag must not be fastened nor displayed in a way that will cause it to be cut, pierced, or damaged. Adding additional letters, numbers, emblems, logos, or designs of any kind is forbidden.

To extend the life of your flag and flag pole, inspect them regularly. While some flags can be washed by hand, some materials require professional dry cleaning. Follow manufacturer label instructions for cleaning of the flag.

When it’s time to dispose of your flag, the rule is to do it in a dignified and respectful manner. For assistance in safely disposing of retired flags at no cost to you, contact local organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, and military installations.

In this day of pervasive advertisement, it may surprise some folks that commercial use of the Stars and Stripes isn’t allowed. That is, its image must not be used in marketing, for example, on civilian clothing apparel, curtains, drapes, towels, bedding, etc. Neither should it be used in napkins, paper plates, picnic favors, or outdoor items. If you display the mini lawn flags on your yard, check on them frequently to ensure none are touching the ground. To avoid accidentally disrespecting our flag, the best advice is not to buy products that will later be thrown away.

As a military veteran and U.S. citizen of Spanish Mexican descent, I’m especially proud of Spain’s bulwark of support that nourished the infant U.S. with ample financial aid and war materiel.

Indeed, today when Spanish-speakers in the U.S. are experiencing increased hostility, I invite readers to learn about the strong Spain-U.S. bond of the late 18th century. Not only will it lift your spirits, it will explain Mexican-descent citizens’ close link with U.S. independence and the U.S. flag.

For example, Spanish King Carlos III actively provided blood and treasure to the Second Continental Congress and the Continental Army. Similarly, Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez led a 7,000-man army, including Spanish-speaking soldiers from Mexico. On a battle line stretching from Texas to Florida, Gen. Gálvez decisively defeated the British along the Gulf of Mexico.

According to historian Carlos M. Fernández-Shaw, the close friendship between Spain and the U.S. was soon erased by mainstream U.S. historians. No doubt, they did so in favor of restoring the U.S. connection to England, ironically the mortal enemy of George Washington’s Continental Army.

Yet, the Spanish influence remains hidden in several of our nation’s state flags. Two state flags in particular have an unmistakable Spanish character.

First, according to Dr. Lino Garcia, Jr., UTRGV Professor Emeritus, the iconic Texas flag was created by Lorenzo de Zavala. Incidentally, de Zavala is one of only three Mexican native-born (legitimate) signers of the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence.

Second, Montana is the Anglicized version of the Spanish word, “Montaña”. It’s the first word of the region’s original European name, Montaña del Norte. Plus, the Montana state motto is also in Spanish — “Oro y Plata” (gold and silver).

Several other state flags having Spanish traces include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon.

Curiously, although California was named by the Spanish and was one of Mexico’s internal provinces, California’s “Bear” flag doesn’t contain any historical connection to its abundant Spanish Mexican past.

In summary, Flag Day is a day of celebration and no other patriotic symbol in this country tops the Stars and Stripes. The bottom line? Enjoy displaying our banner with enthusiasm, but don’t forget flag etiquette rules.

Lastly, I end this article by including the beautiful words written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist Minister. Adopted formally by the U.S. Congress in 1942, it was slightly modified in 1954: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”