A Moment of Silence for Our Veterans—and the Flag Code

The next generation of patriots at Palisades Charter Elementary School learn the Salute from Noe Aguirre, 1st Vice Commander at American Legion Post 283.
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

On Saturday, the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, there may be a moment of hush over Pacific Palisades as families remember those who served so we might be free.

It will be the 98th year since President Woodrow Wilson marked the day when major hostilities in the first World War ceased in an armistice, although it only became Veterans Day in 1954.

The day to honor all veterans will be celebrated across the city, from the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda to the Los Angeles National Cemetery near Brentwood.

But, say veterans, too many people will go about their business without acknowledging the debt that is owed to the fighting men and women of the U.S. Armed Services.

Which is one reason why local “beautifier” Bruce Schwartz will, once again, place small flags in the Sunset median on Thursday, Nov. 9, and respectfully remove them on Saturday evening.

“I never served, but my family was rescued from [the Nazi genocide camp] Auschwitz, and every year, I am deeply humbled at what they have done for us all, and thankful, and remember,” he told the Palisadian-Post.

This year, however, Schwartz, who is famed for planting flowers in public places and keeping road medians blooming beautifully, is trying to steer his way between respect and form.

He has received anonymous complaints from an Alphabet Street resident saying that placing flags around the neighborhood is disrespectful and a breach of flag etiquette.

And, formally, the complainant is right: Section 8 of The American Legion guide, “Let’s Be Right on Flag Etiquette,” points out that the flag should never touch the ground—and some of the little flags in the median occasionally do.

The wooden staffs are not always long enough to keep them aloft in the turbulence of Sunset traffic. They should also be removed every night or else illuminated.

Schwartz said he will be extra careful when siting the flags at 7 a.m. Thursday, making sure they stay upright, but all he means to do is to remind Palisadians of this important day.

They will be fluttering throughout Friday, when federal offices will be closed and the Marine Corps celebrates its birthday, and most of Veterans Day on Saturday itself.

His breech is hardly the most egregious: Old Glory appears on yoga pants and pet cushions, marijuana accouterments and backpacks—despite the legally binding United States Flag Code, which frowns upon such commercial and fashionable abuse.

When Schwartz collects the Stars and Stripes from the median on Saturday, he is expected to  dispose of them in the most respectful way, as laid down in the code, with fire.