From the New York Times:
By JADA F. SMITHMARCH 27, 2014
WASHINGTON — Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 deaths each day.
Civilians stood among the waving flags in solidarity with veterans like Michael Blazer, a former sergeant in the Army who had a friend commit suicide when he got back from Afghanistan.
“He shot himself in the same room as me and a friend of mine,” Mr. Blazer said. “I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD because of that, so a lot of these issues are what I’ve personally been dealing with. But above and beyond, I’m out here in memory of him.”
The event was part of an awareness campaign mounted by members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group focused on issues affecting the nation’s newest veterans. They are in Washington this week as part of their leadership development program, Storm the Hill, and to support the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing suicides and providing more mental health resources for service members home from combat.
Event organizers said that the issues were a top priority for veterans and their families, and that they wanted to make them a priority for Congress, too.
Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana and the first Iraq war veteran to serve in the Senate, introduced the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act on Thursday. For Mr. Walsh, the issue is personal: A sergeant who served under him when he commanded an infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 committed suicide after returning home.
“We’ve waited too long to take on this action,” he said. Then, mentioning the 22 veterans who take their lives every day, he added, “That’s an epidemic that we cannot allow to continue.”
When service members leave the military, they can get five years of no-questions-asked care from Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and facilities. One of the bill’s main goals is to extend that window to 15 years.
“For instance, in Vietnam, a lot of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder didn’t show up anywhere until between seven and 12 years later,” said Kate O’Gorman, the political director at the veterans’ advocacy group. “We really want to make sure that care is available when someone is ready to seek it.”
The bill also calls for the military to set up a review process for troops who are discharged for behavior that could have been caused by mental health issues. Measures to help the Veterans Affairs agency recruit more psychiatrists are also included.
“It establishes student loan repayment for psychiatrists,” Ms. O’Gorman said. “When the private sector and even the Department of Defense are able to offer good student loan repayment programs and the V.A. is not, that can make it difficult for them to recruit.”
The striking display of red, white and blue caught the eye of almost everyone leaving a Metro station on the Mall on Thursday. One man wearing a hat with “Vietnam Veteran” stitched on the front took pictures. Others stopped to ask what was going on.
Roger Engetschwiler and his daughter, Katja, were visiting from Switzerland. They were headed to the Holocaust Memorial Museum and then the Lincoln Memorial when they paused to find out about the flags.
“We knew the subject when they told us that there’s a lot of suicide going on with veterans,” he said. “But I didn’t know the numbers were that high. That’s really scary.”
A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2014, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/us/using-flags-to-focus-on-veteran-suicides.html?_r=0
MCDONOUGH, Ga. – (See video from FOX Atlanta.)
Last November, a McDonough business owner may just be vindicated after city officials fined him for flying patriotic flags above his restaurant.
A McDonough business owner tells FOX 5 he was just trying to show his patriotic spirit and give thanks to the military, but the city told him to take his flags down. A code enforcement officer cited CJ’s Hot Dogs on Friday, but Saturday, McDonough City Administrator Frederick Gardiner told him that city law is not clear in the matter.
Hot dogs are on the menu at CJ’s, but the restaurant has an appetite for service. Darren Miller says the whole place is dedicated to police, fire and military—and it’s in his blood. His father is a Vietnam veteran, and he’s a retired DeKalb County fireman.
The walls of CJ’s Hot Dogs are covered with patches from men and women who also served. Miller believes it’s his right to salute them both inside and outside his restaurant. Three months ago, he put up flags for country, state and every branch of the military. But on Friday, the city of McDonough sent him a citation that said the flags have to come down.
“I’m just floored,” said Miller. “And I called the guy and asked what they’re for. And he said I’m in violation with my flags flying above my restaurant.”
It didn’t take long for outraged veterans to spread the word. Some called the citation sad, while others were outright angry.
The city administrator, who didn’t realize code enforcement officers cited the restaurant until Shaw told him on Friday, told Miller that the ordinance that classifies the flags as signs is too vague and needs to be rewritten. For that reason, he says he’s asking that the citation be thrown out.
It’s a victory for Miller, the veterans, and what the flags stand for.
“I’ve had enough of it,” said Miller. “I’m tired of being pushed around for supporting our local men and women and I’m not going to be pushed around anymore.”
— How do you feel about patriotic displays such as this? Should cities and community groups revisit their sign laws to exclude flags from these types of ordinances? What if a person is flying a less than popular flag such as the Confederate flag or a Rainbow flag? Does this alter your opinion because those are “controversial”? Comment below and let us know what you think!
Prime minister John Key, who favours a silver fern design, promises voters the chance to ‘acknowledge our independence’
New Zealanders are to be given the chance to jettison the most visible remaining symbol of their colonial past in a referendum on changing the national flag.
In a speech in Wellington on Tuesday, the prime minister, John Key, promised a vote in the next parliamentary term on whether to keep the existing design, which features the union jack and four stars representing the southern cross, or replace it with an alternative, such as the silver fern on a black background or a version of the Maori koru.
Key, who personally favours the silver-fern-on-black option made famous by the All Black rugby side, said the time was ripe for “one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand”. A change to the design of the flag, currently identical to the Australian banner apart from the number and style of stars, would show the country “acknowledging our independence”.
“It’s my belief, and I think one increasingly shared by many New Zealanders, that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed,” he said.
Key cited Canada’s shift in 1965, from a union jack adorned flag to a maple leaf symbol, as an example. “That old flag represented Canada as it was once, rather than as it is now. Similarly, I think our flag represents us as we were once, rather than as we are now.”
He pledged to work with all political parties to establish a working group that would in turn map out a process, which would very likely involve two separate plebiscites – to determine if a change was wanted and the preferred replacement. Read more….
The group we are members of, the National Independent Flag Distributors Association has been lobbying for this provision to be passed for many years now. We were so happy to see this news:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Mike Thompson’s (D-St. Helena) bipartisan provision requiring every American flag purchased by the Department of Defense (DOD) to be 100-percent manufactured in the United States, from articles, materials, or supplies that are 100-percent of grown, produced or manufactured in the United States, was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, and will be signed into law.
“This provision will make sure every American Flag DOD buys is made in America, by American workers with American products,” Thompson said. “I am proud to have worked to pass this law so that our men and women in uniform never have to fight under a U.S. flag made overseas, and so that our Defense Department never again spends American tax dollars on a U.S. flag made overseas.”
Thompson’s provision applies the Berry Amendment to the American Flag. The Berry Amendment, originally passed in 1941, prohibits DOD funds from being used to acquire food, clothing, military uniforms, fabrics, stainless steel and hand or measuring tools that are not grown or produced in the United States, except in rare exceptions. Thompson’s provision applies the same rules for the DOD’s acquisition of American Flags, which previously were not listed as a covered item.
Precedent already exists for such a provision. The Department of Veterans Affairs is required to only purchase U.S.-made American Flags for servicemembers’ funerals.
Thompson’s provision passed as part of H.R. 3547, the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill.
Thompson represents California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.
Kerry McCoy has owned Arkansas Flag and Banner since 1975.
“I started with $400,” McCoy said.
After a few years, she wanted to expand, but had some problems.
“I wasn’t sure how to get a construction loan or how to put together a business plan to that magnitude,” McCoy said.
So she took the entrepreneurial training course offered by the city of Little Rock.
“When you are a young entrepreneur, you just need some simple questions answered,” McCoy said.
Kerry says the class helped her open a renovated building and that’s why she pushes any new entreprenuer to take the class.
The spokesperson for the program says students can learn a lot in the 10-week course.
“It’s really a way for the city of Little Rock to give back to people who are investing back into their business,” said Chauncey Holloman, spokesperson for the Little Rock Small Business Development Office.
The city says space is very limited for the class that begins Feb. 3. Enrollment closes at 5 p.m. this Friday.
Holloman says the Entrepreneurial Training Course is conducted by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Small Business and Technology Development Center.
The course covers a wide range of topics for business owners, like business concepts, feasibility, market analysis, pricing and cash flow, among many others.
Each participant receives assistance with creating a realistic business plan and will graduate with a completed plan to implement their own business idea.
Classes are held Monday evenings from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center on 12th Street.
Tuition cost for the course taught by UALR instructors and successful entrepreneurs is $100.00 for Little Rock residents and includes all classes, a textbook and business plan assistance.
For more information, contact Holloman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-379-1505.
Visit http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/biz-owner-talks-success-of-lr-entrepreneur-class/d/story/nSyUKDdYO0qLuNX1fvszgg for more information
This is a great story from CNN about flags. Let us know what you think!
(CNN) — Funny things flags.
Essentially they’re just pieces of colored cloth, but run any of them up a pole and they become powerful talismans capable of making people behave in peculiar ways.
The stories behind national pennants can be inspiring, intriguing and often give an insight into the culture and history of the country.
We’re all about raising standards and we think some of the tales behind these patriotic pennants are worth saluting.
What flags do you love and why? Leave a comment.
Say what you like about over-polite Canadians, at least they’ve managed to ditch the Union flag of their former British overlords.
Canadian leaders debated furiously before finally adopting the resplendent red maple leaf in 1965, an ensign pointedly free of colonial images.
Good thing they did, because it gives Americans and Brits a useful flag to slap on their backpacks to stop people hating them.
What to say: “The Canadian flag has saved my bacon a few times.”
Flag it up: Brockville is birthplace of the flag. Main attraction? Possibly the U.S. border 15 miles away.
Square flags are for squares.
As the only country with an ensign that doesn’t have four 90-degree corners, Nepal is in a league of its own.
Its double triangle design symbolizes the mighty peaks of the Himalayas where foreign mountaineers have planted so many other national flags.
The sun and moon symbols represent calmness and resolve — character traits needed to tolerate the Everest-sized egos of those flag-planting foreign mountaineers.
What to say: “Nepal’s 1962 design marked a new a pinnacle for world flags.”
Flag it up: You can plan a flag-planting exercise of your own via Nepal’s trekking agencies.
Few flags evoke the nation they represent as well as Greece’s.
The blue stripes conjure the cobalt summer skies and azure seas that annually lure millions of vacationers; the white recalls spotless coastal buildings dotting its beautiful coastline.
The nine stripes are said to represent ancient muses or possibly the number of syllables in the battle cry “eleftheria i thanatos,” meaning “freedom or death,” used in wars against the Ottomans.
What to say: “Tentative signs of a recent economic recovery are a good excuse to wave the flag.”
Flag it up: On the gorgeous Cyclades islands the buildings wear the national colors with pride.
At first glance, Bhutan’s flag appears to bear the image of a dragon on wheels.
The reality isn’t much less exciting.
The beast in question is Druk, a thunder dragon of Bhutanese Buddhist mythology. Rather than riding on castors, he is in fact clutching a spherical jewel in each claw.
As flag stories go, this one isn’t bad either.
The dragon is said to symbolize the origins of religious teachings on which Bhutan was founded.
Drukpa Buddhism was so named by its 12th-century founder, Tsangpa Gyare Yeshey Dorji, because he heard the thunderous sounds of dragons while hunting for a monastery site in Tibet.
What to say: “Vacations are never a drag-on this side of the Himalayas.”
Flag it up: It’ll cost you a dragon’s hoard of silver to travel there, but this isolated kingdom is worth it.
Poor Old Glory. Those starry spangles and candy stripes have become a teensy bit overexposed thanks to recent American ventures in overseas troublespots.
This is a shame as the modern incarnation of Betsy Ross’s purported creation is an oft-imitated design of which Americans are rightly proud.
So proud in fact, it’s one of the only flags to have a National Anthem (“The Star-spangled Banner”) written specifically about it.
What to say: Oh long may it wave.
Flag it up: Don’t get into a flap about whether she designed it or not, just visit Betsy Ross’s home in Philadelphia.
Given Brazil’s skills on the pitch, you’d be forgiven for thinking its flag symbolizes a blue soccer ball being booted into space from a grassy stadium.
Less excitingly, the green harks back to Portuguese colonial-era royalty, while the slice of night sky represents, even more prosaically, federal regions.
It’s still a much-loved design, even among non-Brazilians.
What to say: “Brazil’s success in securing the upcoming soccer World Cup and Olympics justify the flag’s ‘ordem e progresso’ (order and progress) slogan.”
Flag it up: You can take your own flag to Brazil for next year’ssoccer World Cup Finals.
The simplicity of the Indonesian flag belies an interesting tale (if true).
The story goes that as they were shaking off the shackles of Dutch colonial invaders, Indonesian freedom fighters created their flag by tearing the blue strip off a Dutch tricolor.
Another version claims the flag’s colors are derived from those representing the archipelago’s 14th century Majapahit Empire.
Either way, it excuses the fact it resembles an upside-down Polish flag.
What to say: “Indonesians know how to tear a strip off oppressors.”
Flag it up: Surabaya’s luxury Hotel Majapahit is supposedly the scene of the flag-tearing incident.
Mozambique’s flag features a gun!
Yes, there’s a book, symbolizing education, and, yes, there’s a hoe symbolizing agriculture.
But there’s also an AK-47 assault rifle symbolizing the country’s bloody struggle for independence.
The only national flag bearing a firearm, it’s the subject of intense debate in the now largely peaceful country.
Many there feel it’s time to ditch the weapon.
What to say: “The economy is booming, not the guns.”
Flag it up: Mozambique’s flag carrying LAM Airlines is banned in the EU.
Given that it’s so widely displayed on ships using the country’s emblem as a flag of convenience, it’s fascinating to see what they almost used.
This rather alarming alternative version, designed by Frenchman Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, is meant to resemble the country’s famous canal.
Thankfully, then-president Manuel Amador Guerrero rejected it and hired his son to produce the current ensign, adopted in 1925.
The colors represent the country’s main political parties.
What to say: “The alternative flag would have been a danger to shipping.”
Flag it up: You can board the Panama-registered Carnival Breezefor a quiet cruise — just you and 3,689 other passengers.
Granted home rule from Denmark in 1978, Greenlanders decided they needed something new to fly above their frosty territories.
The result, adopted in 1985, is both an exercise in classically minimalist Scandinavian design, and a bold departure from other flags favored by Nordic nations.
Many in Greenland had hoped to emulate Denmark and its neighbors by using a Christian cross — preferably white on green — but from 555 submitted designs, a committee instead chose a red and white split circle on a contrasting background.
The symbolism isn’t too hard to read: a red sun sinking down into snow and ice.
What to say: “Let’s hope global warming doesn’t necessitate a redesign.”
Flag it up: You can witness Greenland’s fantastic sunsets for yourself.
The UK’s Union Flag has long lived a double life, serving both as national emblem and an erstwhile fashion icon — although its associations with the Swinging Sixties are these days just as likely to bring to mind Austin Powers’ underwear.
The flag itself is an exercise in nation building, originally combining the blue and white saltire of Scotland’s patron Saint Andrew and the red cross on white of England’s Saint George when the two countries united in the 18th century.
The red diagonal cross of Ireland’s Saint Patrick was added later.
Of course, all this could change again if Scottish people vote for independence in a referendum scheduled for 2014.
In which case, perhaps Wales might finally get a mention.
What to say: “Groovy, baby!”
Flag it up: The Union flags may not be so prominent these days, but London’s Carnaby Street is still a swinging center for fashion.
Learn more at CNN http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/15/travel/national-flags/index.html?hpt=hp_c4
Which flag do you think has the best design? The most boring? Share your opinion in the comments.
Little Rock, Ark., – Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com and the Dreamland Ballroom will be hosting students on Martin Luther King Junior National Day of Service Monday, January 20, 2014 between the hours of 10 am – 12 pm. The group of students were organized by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (just down the street from Taborian Hall). The students will be repainting the floor of the historic Taborian Hall’s Dreamland Ballroom as part of the MLK Challenge, a program designed by the Mosiac Templars Cultural Center to engage youth in the role of servant leadership with a full day of service projects that challenge them mentally and socially. Participants will work at sites across the city. “We are very glad to be a part of this great youth educational and service opportunity,” said Kerry McCoy, owner of Taborian Hall and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “We are very proud that our Taborian Hall is the “sister” building to the Mosaic Templars and thrilled to be a part of the MLK Challenge,” McCoy continued. Press and photographers are welcome to commemorate this community service event.
Taborian Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places with the Department of the Interior and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Society. Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com headquarters and storefront resides in the same building as the historic Dreamland Ballroom that once showcased legendary musicians of the 1930’s. Just a few of the names that graced the Ballroom stage were Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Nat “King” Cole and Louis Jordan.
Kerry McCoy, purchased Taborian Hall as a new home for her business, Arkansas Flag and Banner in 1991. The building had no roof when McCoy purchased it but through her efforts, the building has been preserved. She continues through the help of the non-profit group The Friends of Dreamland Ballroom to renovate the legendary ballroom and building, in an effort to save and to share this magnificent auditorium with the community.
Arkansas’s FlagandBanner.com welcomes the public to browse the first floor factory showroom, filled with all things patriotic and flying the red, white and blue…a fitting enterprise for a building with such a proud heritage as hosting the USO for African American soldiers during World War II.
Those who wish to make a tax deductible donation to the renovation fund can visit www.dreamlandballroom.org for details. To find out more about the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center visit their website http://www.mosaictemplarscenter.com.
The U.S. flag should be flown every day but especially on national holidays. FlagandBanner.com presents the 2014 holiday calendar with half staff information.
The United States Flag at half staff.
Little Rock, AK (PRWEB) December 31, 2013
The New Year is almost upon us and many may be sitting down to mark special dates on their calendars. While marking down birthdays and special events, think about marking what days to lower your American flag to half staff. While the American flag should be flown every day of the year, it is especially important to fly flags on national holidays and if they are half staff days, flags should always be lowered to half staff.
Kerry McCoy, owner of FlagandBanner.com, said, “The American flag does not stand for any political party or faction, it stands for every American. We look to our flag in times of national triumph such as the upcoming Olympics when we hope to see our flag displayed and our national anthem play. We again look to our flag in times of national tragedy, such as the Boston Marathon bombing this past year or September 11th, 2001. These times of trial or celebration are when we as a nation rally around our flag. Let us hope in 2014 that half staff notices will only be issued for already known holidays and we also hope you will join us in proudly flying your flag all 365 days this year.”
2014 Holiday Calendar:
Wednesday, January 1, New Years Day
Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King Day
Monday, February 17, Presidents’ Day
Thursday, May 15, Peace Officer’s Memorial Day (half staff)
Saturday, May 17, Armed Forces Day
Monday, May 26, Memorial Day (half staff until noon, then raised to full staff until sunset)
Saturday, June 14, Flag Day
Friday, July 4, Independence Day
Monday, September 1, Labor Day
Thursday, September 11, Patriot Day (half staff)
Friday, September 19, National POW/MIA Recognition Day
Monday, October 13, Columbus Day
Tuesday, November 4, Election Day
Tuesday, November 11, Veterans Day
Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day
Sunday, December 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (half staff)
Thursday, December 25, Christmas Day
If you would like reminders of when to fly your flag at half staff for events other than those listed in the calendar above sign up for Flag Alerts from FlagandBanner.com.
FlagandBanner.com is based in Little Rock, Ark., and has been in business since 1975. They have been selling flags, flagpoles, banners, pennants and home and garden décor online nationally since 1995.
For more information about the more than 22,000 products FlagandBanner.com offers, log on toFlagandBanner.com, become a fan on Facebook, or call one of their Flag Experts for answers to any and all questions about flags, banners, pennants and more at 1-800-445-0653.
Watch the Arkansas Razorback Cheerleaders demonstrate how to best utilize a spirit flag during a football game. The flag featured in the video was made by Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com