Flags fly in a year-round display of patriotism

Cass Olmstead poses with her large U.S. flag that stays posted in front of her South Tempe residence all year long.

By Joyce Coronel

The flash of fireworks, the aroma of family barbecues, joyful echoes of splashing in the pool, and of course, strains of the Star Spangled Banner: These are just some of the colorful signs that America’s Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations are underway across the nation. It’s the day we celebrate the birth of our nation, and what could be more emblematic of the occasion than the American flag hoisted briskly and snapping in the breeze?

Drive the streets of neighborhoods in Tempe and West Chandler over the Fourth of July weekend and you’re sure to see many an American flag proudly displayed.

Then there are those for whom Old Glory flies proudly all year long.

Rene Delgado lives on a quiet street in South Tempe where many neighbors have flags posted on the corners of roofs. Others have miniature versions standing at attention in flower pots. Delgado’s husband and father built the sprawling ranch-style home with one of the focal points being a flagpole out front. The family, she said, has always had a flag atop the pole.

“My husband and my dad built our house brick-by-brick 36 years ago,” Delgado said. Both men served in the military with Delgado’s father having fought in the Philippines during World War II. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic service in a combat zone.

Delgado gets choked up when asked what the flag means to her. “I love this country,” she said quietly, brushing back tears. Her family on both sides, she said, has been here since Arizona became a state. “It’s our home and there are many things to love about being an American. We’re so happy to be Americans.”

Her parents came from very humble beginnings she said, but went on to achieve great things. She’s thankful for the opportunities for advancement in the U.S. “I’m proud to be an American.”

Just down the street from the Delgados stands Cass Olmstead’s home that sports an enormous, brightly colored American flag hanging from the front porch. The flag is on display all year long and is lit up during the night. “We replace it every six months to keep it looking fresh,” Olmstead said.

So why such a large flag?

“We have a big house so a little flag wouldn’t look appropriate,” Olmstead explained. “My husband is a veteran so we’re very patriotic. We love our country.”

Of course, no one has a bigger flag than the one you’ll see above area car dealerships like Freeway Chevrolet. The Stars and Stripes that hang above car dealers are generally a whopping 60 feet by 30 feet and cost north of $1,400. That’s a lot of red, white and blue.

If you’re new to displaying the American flag, be aware that there is an etiquette governing how it’s to be done. There are also a few curious and little-known rules such as those you’ll find at usflag.org:

  • When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
  • When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag – of a state, community, society or Scout unit – the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.
  • When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag’s union should be farthest from the building.
  • When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. No other flag ever should be placed above it. The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

Flags that become torn or damaged need to be respectfully retired. The American Legion conducts flag-burning ceremonies, usually on or around June 14, Flag Day.