You'd think they'd know all there is to know about flag etiquette at Los Angeles' Boy Scout headquarters. Scout leaders teach it, after all.
Copies of the Boy Scout Handbook there offer instruction on the proper care of and respect for the Stars and Stripes on Page 473. And the booklet sold in the headquarters bookstore, "Your Flag--Everything You Want to Know About the Flag of the United States of America," is crammed with details.
So why have Scout officials been flying not one but two American flags all night long in the dark outside their headquarters in violation of the U.S. Flag Code?
The code states that the flag should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset--unless it is "properly illuminated during the hours of darkness."
Oops, red-faced Scout officials said Thursday. It was a mistake.
Scout leaders display a small flag on a 25-foot pole at the entrance to their headquarters at 2333 Scout Way, northwest of downtown Los Angeles. That pole is near a bronze statue of a Boy Scout standing with his hat over his heart.
A larger flag is flown from a 55-foot pole next to the headquarters. It towers over the Hollywood Freeway. At night, motorists can see the flag limply hanging, barely silhouetted against the sky.
Scout leaders at first seemed in the dark when asked about the nighttime flag-flying.
Someone is supposed to take down the small flag each afternoon, said Greg Salce, vice president and director of field services for the Scouts' Los Angeles Area Council. And the flag atop the tall pole is supposed to be bathed by spotlights that automatically come on at night so it can be flown 24 hours a day, he said.
But after investigating, Salce learned that the small flag has been left out all night by the maintenance man who is supposed to bring it in. The worker told Salce that he suffers back problems that he feared would be worsened by straining to raise and lower it.
The larger flag hangs in the darkness because newly installed halogen lamps apparently aren't strong enough to shine to the top of the pole, Salce discovered.
Scout leaders now see the light, he said Thursday. "The flag is not illuminated," Salce acknowledged. He promised to take up the matter with council executive Ed Jacobs next week when Jacobs returns from vacation.
Now that's a flag pledge that all good Scouts can salute.