Getting our flags in tip-top shape

Are there other flags around Vashon that need some care?

It’s because he was an Eagle Scout, says Tag Gornall, Vashon’s well-known retired whale doctor and head of the Island GreenTech “good works” community organization.

That’s why it bothered him last July that the American and MIA/POW flags flying over our post office were getting so tattered. As long as there is a light on our flag, it can fly day and night, but the weather has not been kind over the years with such constant use.

Tag acknowledges that life has been challenging for postal workers, and when he stopped in to check in with the postmaster about the worn flags, it happened to be a time when the position had a vacancy. He notified the postal clerk on duty that Island GreenTech would replace the flags and, after clearing his intention with members of the GreenTech board, he ordered new ones.

When board members came together to carefully and respectfully make the switch, Tag was asked by a bystander whether those in the group were veterans. In fact, this is not required, but it is important that protocols for handling the flag are known and observed. Tag was in charge of ensuring that all was in order. When a flag needs to be replaced, it should be destroyed in a dignified way — preferably by burning — which Tag then accomplished.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the flag should not be flown in bad weather unless it is an all-weather flag. Out of respect, it should never be dipped for any person or thing, nor displayed upside-down except as a signal of distress.

The flag should never touch the ground, floor, water, or merchandise. It should be carried horizontally, always aloft, and always protected from damage or soiling. The flag should not be used as apparel or decoration, nor on a costume or athletic uniform. And it should not be used for advertising or promotion purposes, or printed on anything that will be discarded.

Are there other flags around Vashon that need some care? Island GreenTech is doing a survey; please contact Tag to let him know.

Any community members who want to support this effort can contribute to the GreenTech account at our Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union. Be sure to leave your name and contact information so that GreenTech can thank you. Any extra monies will be donated to a veterans’ group.

If you have questions, email Learn more about Island GreenTech at

Rondi Lightmark is a frequent contributor to The Beachcomber.