Andrea Howe

Andrea Howe

In the 25 years or so that I have known him, my husband has never said, “You should write about....” whatever it is he’s thinking.

He is a sharp man with lots of strongly-held opinions, but he never tries to influence anything I write about.

Last week he told me he had something for me to write about that was as important as anything we had in the paper last week, so I knew he was serious.

He drives around the city of Princeton a lot, and he notices a lot of things, and he has a lot of opinions about what he sees.

But the thing that bothers him enough to ask me to write something is this: We have way too many raggedy U.S. flags being improperly displayed in Princeton.

It means something to him. Uncle Sam took him over to Vietnam and he was shot at repeatedly, to put it lightly.

Twice a year, he drives over to Albion, Illinois, and helps put out a beautiful display of flags on that county’s courthouse lawn.

Each one of those flags that he helps mount on display poles on the lighted grounds of the courthouse belongs to a deceased veteran whose family donated it.

My husband just took one of the newest flags, belonging to his father, Princeton native Robert W. Howe, over to donate a few weeks ago. The burial flag of his grandpa, Princeton native Conrad Miln Howe, has been flying over there on holidays since the 1970s.

But the other thing he and the people who put that display up do, is watch the weather. They waste no time scurrying back to collect those flags and properly store them if there’s rain coming in. They want the flags to be in good condition and last for years to come.

I don’t think you have to rush out and get your flag and bring it in when it rains if you’re flying an all-weather flag, but check out the proper way to display a flag, and keep an eye on it.

When it’s looking rugged, take it down and take it to the American Legion or VFW or Boy Scouts. They can properly dispose of them. Barrett Doyle at Doyle Funeral Home said he also properly disposes of battered American flags.

My mother-in-law, who founded a Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Edwards County, Illinois, is also partly my husband’s inspiration for caring about the flag.

She’s 93 and can’t do it anymore, but she used to drop a nice note by places where flags needed some attention, reminding them of the respectful and proper way to display and care for them.

The U.S. Flag Code spells out all you need to know.

You can view the information online at

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