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Flagrant Misuse Of Flag Flogged

July 2024
1min read

The cover of our February, 1977, issue inspired, amoner others, the following letter from the Honorable Thomas F. Butt, probate judge of the Thirteenth Chancery Court of the State of Arkansas:

“Surely, surely, your make-up staff reversed the negative on the reproduction photo of Speaker Joe Cannon. Surely ‘Uncle Joe’ was not left-handed; surely, the national flag behind the speaker was not incorrectly hung, in actuality. Properly hung, the starred union of the flag should be at its upper right quarter rather than in the upper left quarter as shown in the photo. I suspect this letter will be about the 4,004th such communication inviting your attention to this apparent error.”

Although we received considerably fewer than 4,004 such letters, there were, indeed, many of them. Actually, we can provide a bit of information that most people apparently do not know (and that we did not know until we looked into it): before 1942, there was no uniform official code for the proper display of the flag. Until then, within Congress and out (as the photograph on pages 74-75 of this issue will demonstrate), the national emblem tended to be hung every which way, with few people being overly concerned about it. (Note, however, that if the flag in the Cannon photograph were turned counterclockwise to hang horizontally, the field of stars would be in its accustomed position.) Whether “Uncle Joe” normally held the gavel in his left hand is not known, but to corroborate our conviction that the picture on our cover was not reversed, we point out that his coat is buttoned in the manner that has been fashionable among men for generations.

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