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Maybe it’s because I’m from Texas. Maybe it’s because I grew up blocks away from a military base. Maybe it’s because my grandma knits American flag sweaters in her free time.
Whatever the reason, the flags outside First Citizens Bank on 28th Street and Arapahoe Avenue deeply insults me as an American. The bank has three flag poles, displaying a CU flag, the American flag and the Colorado flag. That’s pretty standard. But the bank has all these flags flying at the same level, with the American flag in the middle.
Flags outside First Citizens Bank on the northwest corner of 28th Street and Arapahoe Avenue. (CU Independent/Robert R. Denton)
According to national Flag Code, “no other flag or pennant should be placed above or … on the same level … of the flag of the United States of America.” Similarly, Colorado’s Flag Code states “the Colorado State flag must remain below the United States flag.”
There is an exception to this rule though. Technically, any state can fly its flag at the same height as the U.S. flag as long as it’s flown to the right of the American flag from an observer’s perspective. The American flag should always be flown in the place of honor, which is the “flag’s own right” or the left when facing the flag.
But at First Citizens Bank, the CU flag is flown in the place of honor. No offense, Ralphie, but I don’t think you’re on exactly the same level as, you know, the country.
When I asked the bank about the flags, the employees told me that they are managed by a flag company. So, the bank doesn’t have the ability to correct the order. One of the employees had even complained about it in the past, and she was excited that I’d brought it up. Still, they said there was nothing the bank could do about it.
Maybe I’m taking Flag Code too seriously, especially considering the code cannot be enforced. and the Amendments to the Constitution’s ruling on Flag Code have labeled infractions as free speech. So, if the flag company has more pride in CU than in America, they have a right to put Ralphie at the front of the herd.
But the little things add up. In the two years I’ve spent in Boulder, I’ve hardly seen any patriotism or even political ambition from the student body as a whole. I’ve seen the campaign stickers on laptops and angry statuses directed at political candidates on Facebook. I’ve heard classmates debate important, controversial issues and discuss changing things. But overall, the student body is not actively involved — or at least not as much as we should be.
About 51 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 election. Only 24 percent of people in that age group voted in the 2010 midterm elections. Organizations like Rock the Vote exist for a reason. They are trying to encourage students to vote. But, we’ve all awkwardly avoided eye contact and shuffled by the kids with clipboards trying to get CU students to register. Even in my political science classes, we discuss politics – sometimes heatedly – but as soon as class ends, other things become more important. We’re not apathetic, but we are lazy.
The Flag Code violation is little, but it’s symbolic. It’s about patriotism and respect for our nation. I don’t agree with everything America has done in the past, is doing now, or will do in the future. But it’s still my country. Before I can change it for the better, I have to respect it for what it is.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ainslee Mac Naughton at Ainslee.email@example.com
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