FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885.

B.J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in a Fredonia, Wis., public school to observe June 14 as "Flag Birthday." Aug. 3, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

As a young second lieutenant, I vividly remember driving down the main street of Fort Bliss where all the senior officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) lived. Every house had the American flag proudly displayed on its doorsteps. This was my welcome to the Army of what "right" looked like on an Army home.

I remember how patriotic it felt on post runs when entire units would run past these quarters with their guidons held high, and you could see for the next few blocks the American flags' dress right dress on all the houses with the residents' names and rank proudly displayed at their walkways.

Today's reality
As I drive around the Army installations here in Hawaii, I am astonished at the number of homes, to include many senior officers and NCOs, that do not proudly fly the American flag on their homes.

Even more disturbing is the number of homes that have placed either a college or another type of flag higher than the American flag.

Then there are those residents who fly a raggedy and tattered American flag that should have been properly disposed of years before. Isn't this a simple Army tradition we senior leaders should be sure we are passing on to our new Army Soldiers and their families'

Display of the American flag
The display of the American flag on homes, public buildings, and at military formations is a tradition that symbolizes for many the freedom of a great nation and the sacrifices made to ensure that freedom.

I understand some of our new homes don't come with a flag bracket, and it requires a call to Army Hawaii Family Housing maintenance to get one installed. But this hardly seems like a major effort, so you can proudly display our beloved American flag on your Army quarters.

Honoring the American flag
In addition to Public Law, Army Regulation 840-10 prescribes the Department of Army policy for unit and individual authorization of flags, guidons and streamers and procedures for the display of flags.

The following are basic guidelines:
Aca,!AcWhen the flag is unfurled for display across a street, it should be hung vertically, with the stars arranged to the north or east.
It must not touch the buildings, ground, trees or bushes. It should be high enough that it does not drag across anything passing below it.
Aca,!AcNo other flag or pennant should be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of U.S. flag. State flags are not authorized for display by individuals in personal areas.
Aca,!AcThe U.S. flag, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right. Its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
Aca,!AcWhen the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms.
To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
Aca,!AcThe flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
Aca,!AcWhen a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Honor the flag by displaying it with dignity and respect on Flag Day, June 14.

(Editor's Note: Col. Mark C. Boussy is the commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu. His Commander's Columns appear monthly in the Hawaii Army Weekly, the post newspaper for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.)