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by Abigail Van Buren

The Display of Old Glory Deserves Proper Respect

DEAR ABBY: It is time to remind your readers that if they wish to display the American flag, it must be done with respect.

The war is over, but many of the hastily displayed flags (by, I'll call them, born-again patriots) are still outside 24 hours a day, all tangled up, wrapped around roof gutters and downspouts, being torn to shreds in the wind and rain. You don't have to be a former Boy Scout or be knowledgeable of the flag code passed by Congress in 1942 to understand respect.

The American flag is to be displayed out of doors from sunrise to sunset "in good weather." The flag is displayed at night for special occasions, and preferably spotlighted for honor and respect. To me, it seems disrespectful to see flags that were hastily mounted in all manner of ways -- even stapled to old mop handles -- still out there and forgotten.

Improvised display of Old Glory might be dramatic and acceptable on the emotion-filled battlefield, but not on permanent homes and businesses. Abby, can you check out the protocol for displaying the American flag? -- NOT A FLAG- WAVER, BUT I LOVE OLD GLORY

DEAR NOT: The 27th edition of the American Legion Officer's Guide (Revised, July 1989), states: "It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

"The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.

"The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.

"The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily soiled, torn or damaged in any way.

"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."

DEAR ABBY: I went to the doctor the other day, and after he examined me, he said I needed a hysterectomy. Abby, I am an unmarried 28-year-old woman, and this is a major decision.

I went home and told my family. My mother didn't express an opinion one way or the other. My father told me to do what I thought was best. My aunt said I shouldn't have it done because I will gain a lot of weight afterward. I talked to two of my best friends, and they both said I shouldn't do it.

Now I don't know what to do. I want to do what's best for me, but I also want to keep my family and friends happy. What should I do? -- MAJOR PROBLEM

DEAR PROBLEM: Keeping your family and friends happy should be your last consideration in making this decision.

Stop asking friends and family for their opinions -- they mean well, but they are not qualified to advise you. See another gynecologist for a second opinion, and if the second opinion isn't the same as the first, get a third opinion.

If you're not acquainted with the gynecologists in your area, call your county medical association. I wish you well.

Most teen-agers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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