Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Help Me Howard: American Flag
As we approach July Fourth, we all know what it means. A celebration of our nations independance, time for fireworks and barbeque, time to fly that red, white and blue flag. But guess what. The stars and stripes are not being treated with respect across South Florida. Just the opposite. And what can be done about it? Time to call in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the answer.
WSVN--When we are small children we learn the words.
As we grow older we learn what the stars and stripes stand for.
Freedom, democracy, singing it out for all the world to hear.
Alan Wollner: "It sends chills up my spine. It tingles. I feel very very proud to be in America."
Alan Wollner almost didn't make it to America.
During World War II, his father was killed. Most of his family was sent to concentration camps.
Alan and his mother escaped.
Alan Wollner: "My family was originally from Yugoslavia -- but then the German's invaded Yugoslavia. Being that you are the wrong religion you have to get out very quickly."
Eventually they wound up in America. Rene says she will never forget what her five-year-old son did when the boat docked in New York.
Alan Wollner: "The day we entered the United States, he was coming down the street with a flag...all by himself."
Even at the age of five, Alan knew what that flag meant.
And years later he has not forgotten at all.
Alan Wollner: "When you look at the American flag you think of all the people that have given their lives so it can fly, and fly free."
But Alan got in touch with us because of how the flag is treated. Or rather mistreated in South Florida.
Alan Wollner: "Too many people here in america take it for granted."
It didn't take long for Alan to make his point. This flag was wrapped and ripped by barbed wire.
Alan Wollner: "That's absolutely an atrocity to me, that's something that should not be."
As we drove around it seemed like half the flags we saw were tattered and torn.
Alan Wollner: "If the flag is tattered or torn it has to be burned."
Some flags looked like permanent fixtures outside, tied to a pole, faded and forgotten.
Alan Wollner: "It's time people took pride in their country took pride in their flag."
Most of the flags flown in front of public buildings.
Government offices, hospitals, and homes were in good shape.
But at far too many places, including many businesses, the flag was flying; but it was ripped and ruined.
Alan Wollner: "I don't see it as patriotic, I see it as...it helps to embellish the store."
As alan raises this flag it reminds him of what he remembers what he learned as a five-year-old. Those stars and stripes represents so much to so many people.
And he wants to raise the awareness of all the people who seem to have forgotten how to treat the flag.
Alan Wollner: "To me that is absolutely ridiculous. I think they should be fined."
But if you fly the American flag, do you have to fly it properly? Can you just let it fade? Become tattered, and ripped to shreds?
To find out, lets bring in Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "There are laws to protect the flag. Laws that say you cannot destroy mutilate or deface the flag -- but the laws are not enforceable because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that -- under the First Amendment you can do anything to the flag that you want to do."
But there are official guidelines for people who want to treat the flag with respect.
For example it should always fly above other flags.
If a flag touches the ground it does not have to be destroyed, just correct the situation
The flag should never be worn in a hat or shirt, and should never be used in advertising.
Finally if it's tattered torn or faded it should be destroyed, preferably by burning.
Of course, as Howard said, if you ignore the law nothing happens.
Alan Wollner: "I would say fly it proudly."
Fly it proudly, and if you do don't forget what the flag looks like. And never forget what it stands for.
Alan Wollner: "They have got to get tingley, they have got too -- so much history. So much blood has been spilled to make this country what it is today."
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