The American flag is honored on Flag Day, June 14, nationwide with parades and ceremonies. While the celebration is short-lived, Legionnaire Joseph Piazza pays tribute on a daily basis by teaching flag etiquette to youth and county officials in his hometown of Cleveland, Texas.
Piazza, a member of Holbrook Post 615 in New Caney, Texas, noticed that flags flown outside businesses and residential homes were often displayed improperly, in disrepair or at half-staff without orders from the president. So Piazza took it upon himself to learn flag etiquette in effort to educate others. He acquired substantial knowledge through Google searches, as well as The American Legion’s "Let’s Be Right on Flag Etiquette" booklet and its "For Which It Stands" DVD.
Piazza’s expertise on flag etiquette has enabled him to conduct flag replacement ceremonies, as well as lectures at the local Lions Club, county building, junior high school and bank. The most common question asked is how to dispose of a decrepit flag. "I always encourage people to bring no longer used flags to a Legion post for proper disposal," Piazza said. And if someone’s flag is not illuminated at night, in dire need of replacement or displayed improperly, they will hear from Piazza by phone or a knock on their door.
"As a veteran, I always tell people that I appreciate them flying the American flag," Piazza said. "But when it gets torn, you need to replace it. One of the bank managers always laughs while telling people, ‘Joe has been a thorn in my side. Every time our flag is messed up, he lets us know right away.’"
Meanwhile, thanks to Piazza, Cleveland’s junior and senior high school teachers have immediate access to flag etiquette and veteran-related information for educational purposes. Piazza gave each school a DVD of "For Which It Stands" and "America’s Veterans," which helps students understand who veterans are, what they have done, and why they should be honored. He has also taught a few classes to the junior and high school students on how to properly carry, display and fold the American flag.
"A lot of men have died to protect the American flag," Piazza said. "Our flag represents a living country. So therefore it is a living object."
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