Date: September 24, 2009
Police, Capitol architect replace tattered American flags flying over House office buildings
Tattered flags replaced above House buildings
WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police officers have replaced three tattered flags that had been flying over several House office buildings, officials said Thursday.
Eva Malecki, spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol, said in an e-mail that Capitol Police officers had requested the new flags, received them and put them in place atop the buildings.
The damaged flags, which appeared fringed at the ends in photos and videos by The Washington Times, had flown from staffs above the Rayburn, Cannon and Longworth office buildings, across Independence Avenue from the Capitol.
The office buildings are where House members and their aides work each day and are visited by thousands of tourists and constituents each year.
The paper quoted several tourists saying they were offended by the flags’ tattered appearance.
It was unclear whose job it had been to recognize flags in need of replacement. Malecki said her office provides the flags when requested, but does not evaluate the condition of those already flying.
Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said the law enforcement agency’s primary mission is the security of Congress.
“If a Capitol Police officer becomes aware of a flag that needs to be replaced, we immediately work with other offices in the congressional community to make sure that the flag is replaced,” Schneider said. “We’re currently working to ensure that that does not happen again.”
The Architect of the Capitol flies brand new flags above the Capitol each day for Congress members who request them on behalf of constituents. Recipients purchase the flags in one of two sizes, and receive them with a certificate signed by the architect.
Acceptable treatment of American flags has for years been the subject of contentious debate in Congress.
The federal Flag Code says that the flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.
“The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,” the code reads. It does not say who should keep an eye on old flags that need replacing.
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