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Source: New Mexico Daily Lobo
Date: April 10, 2008
Byline: Luke Fields, CNM student

Opinion: Flag violations tolerated out of respect, patriotism


It greatly saddened me to read the letter by Peter Lynch published in the Daily Lobo on April 9.

I do believe the Daily Lobo made the right decision by publishing it, for any person deserves the right to express his or her opinion.

However, I am saddened that after nearly seven months, there is still animosity in the air over this incident. When it comes to flags and the identities of two peaceful countries, the only words that should come to mind are respect, honor, history and courage.

This is echoed by Title 4, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. While I make no assertion that any foreign flag should fly unaccompanied here on U.S. soil, there is only one part of the flag code protocol, Section 7, Part C, where it states that no foreign flag shall be "in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States."

If we take the code literally, the place of the U.S. flag last September was the center flag pole at UNM, the tallest flag pole. The Mexican flag was not at any point flown from that pole, as it remained at a subordinate pole.

While this still was not proper, it was merely a violation of protocol. So what violations did occur last September?

The ROTC did lower the U.S. flag prior to lowering all other flags, violating Title 4, Section 7, Part F. But in addition to that violation, there was also a flagrant violation of Section 7, Part G, not to the U.S. flag but to the Mexican flag: "When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in a time of peace."

The first violation back in September was disrespect for the Mexican flag. So, why did both of these violations occur?

Both violations occurred out of respect. The ROTC failed to lower the Mexican flag due to the fact that it did not belong to them, and that they had respect for it as an independent flag and as private property.

Please refer to the letter by Erik Sevigny published in the Daily Lobo on Sept. 21. As for the other violation, violating international law was simply an oversight. All parties involved back in September were interested in honoring culture and heritage, and simply worked with the flagpoles that they had.

It should be noted that if we are to enforce the flag code, we need to start tracking down Blue Star Mothers wearing U.S. flag sweaters in an act of patriotism for their sons and daughters, shut down any company using the stars and stripes in advertising and arrest every little leaguer with a flag on his or her athletic uniform.

Such an idea is preposterous, and the reason why these violations are tolerated, once again, is out of respect and patriotism. The flag code is a guide with indefinite language such as "should." It is not black and white, but rather red, white and blue.

In the end, remember what the original message was that was being sent back in September: independence and peace.

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