RANDOLPH, NJ- With the Randolph Freedom Festival Parade approaching ( Saturday June 30 at 12 p.m.) the Randolph Veterans of Foreign Wars ( VFW ) would like to remind everyone of the proper etiquette for when the American Flag approaches and passes by in a parade .
When the parade color guard approaches carrying the American Flag, proper etiquette is to remove your cap and stand with respect (at attention) with your open hand over your heart. Military personnel past and present can use a hand salute.
Standing shows gratitude and respect for the people who have sacrificed to preserve this place we call the "land of the free." After the color guard passes, resume your normal position that you were in watching the parade.
The question is often asked how many times one is expected to stand, if a parade contains multiple flags. The general consensus is that any flag being carried and displayed by the Parade Color Guard, would be honored in this way. Other flags attached to floats, carried by parade walkers, or displayed in other ways are not expected to be stood for and saluted.
A quote from Ronald Reagan sums up the answer to the question of "why" this is considered proper etiquette. Reagan stated, "Let us never forget that in honoring our flag, we honor the American men and women who have courageously fought and died for it over the last 200 years, patriots who set an ideal above any consideration of self. Our flag flies free today because of their sacrifice."
Whether or not someone agrees with the current political climate, or agrees with some of the controversial conflicts our country has engaged in, by standing for the flag we honor those people who gave us that ability to "disagree" and to freely express it.
Not only is standing a small token sign of gratitue to those who died trying to establish or preserve the freedoms we enjoy, but it also shows respect to the widows and orphans of deceased soldiers, and the children, husbands and wives, who grow up without mothers and fathers. By standing for the flag, we acknowledge the privileged existence every one of us has living in America.
VFW members marching in the parade on Saturday have sacrificed much for this country, a fitting tribute for them would be to see parade watchers honor the passing of the flag in the proper way.
Contribution from Jack Sassaman, VFW Post Adj./QM / Public Relations Chairman
Past Post Cmdr; Past Dist. 10 Cmdr., Past State Judge Advocate