From time to time, people stop by the paper just to chat about things on their mind.
One such individual is retired teacher Ray Hunter. Mr. Hunter has been by several times over the last few months just to talk about history, the way of the world and thoughts of the future.
When he came to the paper earlier this week, he wanted to talk about the American Flag – Old Glory – and how the school system always needs to teach proper respect for this symbol of our freedom.
I told him about a column I wrote a few years ago about the topic. He said he'd like to read the piece, and I started to think that maybe a little reminder of what's proper, what's respectful and what's disrespectful for our flag would be welcome by more than just Mr. Hunter.
As follows is an abbreviated version of that column, which was first written around the time a flag burner was making national news on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge:
I'm an advocate for free speech. That's kind of a given with my job. But flag burning? Well, flag burning just gets under my skin a little too much.
The right to free speech is a key component of our individual liberties, but I just don't believe the right should extend to the desecration of the Red, White and Blue.
That flag represents our rights protected by the Constitution, including the freedom of speech.
A violation of the flag is the same as disavowing those same rights. Flag desecration is the desecration of our American traditions and for the men and women who have fought and died to protect them.
The protesters who came to boo and heckle LSU flag burner understand my point.
But there is another point they apparently missed. A lot of them, heck, probably 75 percent of them were disrespecting the flag as well.
I've seen the news videos as well as some Youtube postings about what transpired on Wednesday.
The protesters, too many to count, were decked out in flag clothing.
The United States Flag Code states the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. But there sure are a lot of American flag shirts, hats, underwear, bandannas and the like for sale and being worn all about our American communities.
Now, you'll hear interpretations of that tenant. Saying that the clothing items or bedspreads or thong underwear aren't actual flags (as in cut from Old Glory) but just replicas. Justification, right?
Not in my opinion. Because the flag code goes on to say "a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica should be worn on the left lapel near the heart."
The code makes specific mention of a flag patch and a flag lapel. The code uses the word "replica" in those instances. The code doesn't use that word to approve flag boxer shorts.
There are no laws against such displays. Just as there are no laws against burning the flag. The code is just that, a code, guidelines. The code is not law.
Wearing a flag shirt shouldn't be equated with flag burning. Not saying that.
But they are both in poor taste. And both are disrespectful.
Oh, and for what's it's worth, if you are flying a flag in your yard, it's supposed to come down every evening.
If it doesn't you're supposed to make sure it is properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
Just another point from the code that a lot of folks ignore.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.