To the Editors:
More than any country I’ve visited, America loves to display her flag. The stars and stripes fly over government buildings, private enterprises, and homes throughout the United States; Wiltonians are far from exceptional in our pride in this revered national symbol.

And the flag is a symbol. A symbol of our shared values and beliefs, of our respect for the rights of other citizens and visitors to the U.S., and of the sacrifices countless Americans have made through the decades to secure those rights and build this country. The flag is not a fashion accessory, not a decoration. As a national symbol, there are protocols for displaying the flag, and those who seek to honor the symbol and all that it stands for accept the responsibility to understand and follow those protocols.

One of these protocols involves publicly mourning deaths of national or state significance. The President of the United States, or the governor of a state have the authority to order flags be flown at half-staff in such circumstances. On June 12, President Obama ordered flags to be so displayed, through sunset on June 16 to honor and mourn those killed in the terrorist massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Yet, driving around Wilton on daily errands, I observe far more flags flown at full staff than not. Businesses, homes, and even government buildings (more than one Wilton public school, for example) are failing to comply with the Presidential Order.

In this season of toxic political rhetoric, one hopes this is simply a matter of being uninformed, rather than a statement on the source of the order, or its cause. Regardless, it is disappointing and hurtful to receive the message — intended or not — that individuals are deciding to opt out of our national mourning at their own discretion, and in contravention of the Flag Code and a Presidential Order.

Displaying the United States flag is a matter of pride, but also of responsibility. If you choose to fly the flag, understand the rules – particularly if you are in a position of leadership with the potential to set an example for others to follow. Display the flag, but display it responsibly. It’s your duty as an American.
Dev Clifford
Pelham Lane, June 15