Commentary

June 21, 2012

Honoring our Nation’s legacy — it’s our duty

By Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter
Commander, USAICoE and Fort Huachuca

Potter

Recently we marked the 235th year since the establishment of our country’s great symbol of freedom and unity; our national flag.

Respecting the American flag has been a time-honored tradition dating back to 1777, when the Continental Congress approved 13 alternating red and white stripes with a union of 13 white stars on a blue field as our national flag.

Since then, our flag has flown proudly over countless locations and installations, and has been present on the front lines of numerous battle fields as a constant reminder of the very patriotism that fuels our purpose and reignites our resolve to defend freedom everywhere, for everyone. No matter its arrangement of stars, throughout history our national flag has reminded us of the passionate dedication of our forefathers and the promise of freedom our military members have died to keep.

I have witnessed several instances where individuals fail to render the proper courtesy to our national flag. This is a dishonor to our nation and all those who fought and died for it.

A national symbol of hard-won freedom, insurmountable sacrifice and indomitable hope; each Soldier in the United States Army bears an American flag on their right arm to remind us of what we have selflessly sworn to honor and defend. The flag on the Army combat uniform is positioned on the right shoulder and poised as if charging into battle.

Regardless of a Soldier’s decorations, the American flag is the greatest badge of honor we have the privilege to display. It serves as both inspiration and reminder that we are able to enjoy the comfort of freedom under its protection as long as there are brave men and women willing to defend what it represents. It is therefore our duty and solemn honor to pay tribute to the American flag as it rises and lowers each day.

Here on Fort Huacuca, you can hear “Reveille” accompany our flag as it rises at 6 a.m. (7:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays) and “Retreat” as it retires each day at 4:30 p.m., reminding all those in earshot of their duty.

When stopping to render courtesies to the flag, always stop in a safe location and face the direction of the nearest American flag. When driving, pull over and use your hazard lights to warn others of your intent to stop and render appropriate courtesies to the flag.

Civilians should render honors by standing with their left arm at their side, and placing their right hand over their heart. Men who are wearing a hat should remove their hat with their right hand and hold it over their left shoulder. The right hand, not the hat, should rest over the heart.

Title 4 of the U.S. Code, commonly known as the ‘Flag Code’ states, “The flag represents a living country, and is itself considered a living thing”. We assume great risk to keep it safe; we go to great lengths to preserve its glory, and we must honor it for the living symbol of freedom and patriotism that it is.

Always Out Front! Army Strong!




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