U.S. Navy veteran Robert Shaull doesn't take kindly to those who treat the Stars and Stripes with disrespect.
So it was probably for the best that Shaull didn't see the shredded and tattered American flag — looking more like confetti than Old Glory — hanging from the roofline of a home Wednesday in southwest Bakersfield.
"Unfortunately, no," he said when asked if he believes most Americans know how to care for and display the flag. "People who have tattered, torn or worn out flags should have them retired."
Friday is Flag Day. Celebrated each year on June 14, the day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
Longtime Bakersfield resident Bobbie Hulson believes Flag Day is a good time to focus on learning the basics of flag care and etiquette.
"It's important when people display the flag that it is done with respect," she said.
Recently she gave a faded American flag to the Scout troop at her church. They will practice learning how to fold the flag before eventually retiring it.
"They will retire it for us," she said.
As a veteran and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 97, Shaull has hoisted and lowered flags countless times. He has also been involved in the ceremonial burning of worn or damaged flags.
"We collect old flags at the VFW 97 and we have an area in back where they are retired," he said.
Anyone with a worn out flag may drop it off there, he said.
But burning may not always be necessary.
According to the Boy Scouts of America handbook, "A national flag that is worn beyond repair may be burned in a fire. The ceremony should be conducted with dignity and respect and the flag burned completely to ashes."
It's the method preferred by U.S. Flag Code and is usually the most ceremonial and solemn method.
But unlike the cotton and wool flags made in the early 20th century, today’s flags are often made with petroleum-based materials like nylon. Burning nylon can create hazardous gases.
As such, other methods have been devised, including cutting the flag before disposing of it or recycling it.
The updated guidelines read: "We simply need to ask ourselves if the manner in which we are retiring (destroying) the flag is dignified. If the answer is yes, then that method is perfectly acceptable."
In the meantime, take a good look at any flag you have displayed at your home or workplace. If it's hung up on roof shingles, or been rolled up by the wind, it may require your attention.
And if it's in tatters, it deserves a dignified retirement.