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Families lined the streets to witness observances for Memorial Day sponsored by local veterans organizations. There were many small flags waving and a lot of red, white and blue in clothing, banners, balloons and other assorted paraphernalia.

But to many of the veterans who either marched or attended the parades and ceremonies, there was something that bothered more than a few. And it bothered them a lot.

They didn’t mind seeing people talking and laughing and having a generally good time as the parade marches by. They didn’t mind the drinking and eating that many enjoyed as they waited for and watched the procession. They did mind the lack of respect for our nation’s flag.

For those unaware, when Old Glory passes by, Americans should stand in respect.

According to United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1 — The Flag, Section 9, Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag —

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

It must be a requirement for anyone who handles an American flag to read the Flag Code. That applies to Scouting organizations, Fire Departments and all others who use flags during parades or ceremonies.

Many have fought and died in defense of this country and its flag. Following Flag Protocol is not optional, it’s an obligation.