In flag flap, a pass for St. Paul

Based on a letter to the Pioneer Press today, I was expecting a lot worse on St. Paul’s Wabasha bridge when I checked out the American flags on it today.

Tom Staffa of Falcon Heights, a military veteran, questioned the wisdom of putting the dozens of American flags on the bridge.

“The majority of the U.S. flags currently flown on the Wabasha bridge are in a tattered condition,” he wrote. “Allowing the U.S. flag to become tattered and neglected is a shame and needs to be corrected.”

He’s right. The corners of several of the flags are frayed — victims of a non-stop wind in a Minnesota winter. But they haven’t yet reached the point of obvious neglect.


That many of the flags are frayed does not by itself make for a disrespectful display. No flag can survive much of a Minnesota winter.

The U.S. Flag Code actually leaves the condition of the flag to the beholder:

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

A ripped or torn flag obviously needs to be replaced. But a flag with frayed edges may not necessarily qualify as disrespectful just because it’s frayed.

Like this, for example.

Or this…

Oklahoma Tornado

How do you know what constitutes a disrespectful display?

You just know.