Memorial Day 2021 – Fly your flag today

May 31, 2021

Fly your flag today for Memorial Day.

On Memorial Day, flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to full staff (and retired at sunset).

U.S. flags flying at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Ed Darrell. Please use.

U.S. flags flying at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Ed Darrell. Please use.

Just a reminder: When posting a flag to half-staff, it should be raised with gusto to full staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position.  On Memorial Day, when changing the flag’s position at noon, simply raise the flag briskly to full staff.  At retirement, the flag should be lowered in a stately fashion.

U.S. flags flying at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. You may use this photo.

U.S. flags flying at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, for Memorial Day 2015. You may use this photo.

U.S. Flag Code asks for flag flying only on the actual Memorial Day holiday, which floats on the last Monday in May. It’s become tradition in much of Texas to fly flags all through the weekend. Fine by me.

Most residential flag poles lack a way to display a flag at half staff. In that case, fly the flag at full staff.

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Quote of the moment, from Shakespeare: Life, full of sound and fury

May 23, 2021

These are odd, vexing and troubling times.

Poster for the 1948 movie production of Macbeth, starring Orson Welles

I’m not sure whether this counts as inspirational; it struck a chord for me tonight, referring to the lives of high school students and teachers since March 2020.

Inspirational or not, it may stop you and make you think.

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”

(from Macbeth, spoken by Macbeth)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Borrowed from The Poetry Foundation

Seminal DDT source: Cottam’s 1946 monograph on harms of DDT, USFWS “Circular 11”

May 10, 2021

Cover of 1946 USFWS publication, Circular 11, “DDT: Its Effect on Fish and Wildlife”

Rachel Carson knew Clarence Cottam, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and an active researcher. Cottam and Elmer Higgins, Chief of the Division of Fishery Biology at USFWS published a monograph in 1946 on the harms of the then-new insecticide DDT, with suggestions on how to use it more safely. It was an early publication from USFWS, indicated by the title, Circular 11.

Dr. Clarence Cottam, USFWS Assistant Director

Dr. Clarence Cottam, USFWS Assistant Director

This was one of the earliest publications to document harms from DDT across the spectrum of DDT use and the spectrum of wildlife.

Finding the publication in libraries now is difficult. Funding cuts at many libraries encouraged them to throw away materials not heavily used, and this one was not the most popular in most libraries who may have had it.

So when I ran into a .pdf of the circular on a NOAA site, I downloaded it, and I make it available to you here.

In the introduction Cottam and Higgins explain why the monograph was published:

Most organic and mineral poisons are specific to a degree; they do not strike the innumerable animal and plant species with equal effectiveness; if these poisons did, the advantage of control of undesirable species would be more than offset by the detriment to desirable and beneficial forms. DDT is no exception to this rule. Certainly such an effective poison will destroy some beneficial insects, fishes, and wildlife.

The circular said when DDT was used, deaths resulted in mammals, amphibians, birds and fish.

DDT history revisionists are fond now of saying DDT is “harmless” and “safe.” This 1946 publication makes clear that neither is true. While it may take a large dose to cause acute harm to large mammals, like cattle and humans, it is quite deadly to smaller wildlife in all branches.

Cottam and Higgins recommended caution, reducing does of DDT in use, and careful monitoring after use.

Use DDT only where it is needed. Wherever it is applied by airplane, provide careful plane-to-ground control to insure even coverage and to prevent local overdosage.

In forest-pest control, wherever feasible, leave strips untreated at the first application to serve as undisturbed sanctuaries for wildlife, treating these strips at a later time or in succeeding seasons if necessary.

In the control of early appearing insect pests, apply DDT, if possible, just before the emergence of leaves and the main spring migration of birds; for late appearing pests, delay applications, whenever practicable, past the nesting period of birds. Adjust crop applications and mosquito-control applications so far as possible to avoid the nesting period.

Because of the sensitivity of fishes and crabs to DDT, avoid as far as possible direct application to streams, lakes, and coastal bays.

Wherever DDT is used, make careful before and after observations of mammals, birds, fishes, and other wildlife.

Wildlife scientists were not working blind with DDT after 1946.

Full text of USFWS Circular 11, by Clarence Cottam and Elmer Higgins, 1946.


May 2021, flag-flying dates

May 1, 2021

Childe Hassam,

Childe Hassam, “Victory Day, May 1919,” 1919, oil on canvas, 36 x 21 3/4 inches (91.4 x 55.2 cm), American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY. There were at least twenty-three paintings in Hassam’s series of flag paintings. This Victory Day celebration no longer occurs, though there are several other May days to fly the colors.

May has three days designated for flying the U.S. flag out of the specific days mentioned in the U.S. Flag Code, three days designated in other federal laws,  and three statehood days, when residents of those states should fly their flags.

Interestingly, the three designated days all float, from year to year:

  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May (May 9, in 2021)
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May (May 17)
  • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May (May 31)

Residents of these states celebrate statehood; South Carolina and Wisconsin share May 23:

  • Minnesota, May 11 (1858, the 32nd state)
  • South Carolina, May 23 (1788, the 8th state)
  • Wisconsin, May 23 (1848, the 30th state)
  • Rhode Island, May 29 (1790, the last of the 13 original colonies to ratify the Constitution)

In 2016 President Obama issued a proclamation calling on citizens to fly the flag on May 1, Law Day. It’s also Loyalty Day, which got a proclamation from President Obama calling for flag flying in 2016.

Trump did the same in 2017, and for Loyalty Day, surprising me that his office was organized enough to do it.

May 8 marks the 76th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the day the Axis Powers in Europe surrendered at the end of World War II.  Some years that day is marked by a proclamation calling for flag flying.  (You may fly your flag then even if Congress and the President do nothing.)

In recent years Presidents have proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, with flags to fly at half-staff. We might expect another such declaration in 2021.

May 22 is National Maritime Day, under a Joint Resolution from Congress from 1933. President Joe Biden may proclaim that day as a day to fly the flag, too.

Twelve events on fourteen days to fly the U.S. flag.  May could be quite busy for flag fliers.

  1. Law Day, May 1, AND
  2. Loyalty Day, May 1
  3. Victory in Europe Day, May 8
  4. Mothers Day, May 9
  5. Minnesota Statehood, May 11
  6. Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15 (half-staff flags; the law for Police Week calls for flags to be half-staff the entire week in which May 15 occurs, May 9-15 in 2021)
  7. Armed Forces Day, May 17
  8. National Maritime Day, May 22
  9. South Carolina Statehood, May 23, AND
  10. Wisconsin Statehood, May 23
  11. Rhode Island Statehood, May 29
  12. Memorial Day, May 31
US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court's west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

US flag flying at the U.S. Supreme Court’s west portico, suitable for Law Day, May 1. (But this photo was taken in June, 2012; Alex Brandon/AP)

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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