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A Dedication to Old Glory That Never Flags

Every day is Flag Day for Jim Wingate.

Five days a week, 12 months a year for 13 years, the 60-year-old custodian for the Ventura Unified School District has been responsible for flying the flag at the district administration office on Santa Clara Street.

And as the nation celebrates the 219th anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. flag today, Wingate will go to his post at 7:30 a.m. to run Old Glory and the California state flag up the 30-foot flag pole.

“It takes me about five or six cranks to get them up,” said Wingate, gesturing to a gray pole where, attached to a lanyard Wingate describes as “a little thin,” the two flags fly in a cool Ventura breeze.

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The district office is less than a mile from the ocean, and “the flags don’t last too long in the ocean air,” Wingate said. The elements have worn out about 30 flags during his tenure.

A sticking lanyard is about the only problem the former Marine says he ever has running the flags up the pole. But there was the time he accidentally sent the state flag up the pole upside down.

“I looked out there and saw the bear’s feet pointing up, and then I went over and made it right,” Wingate said, an embarrassed smile crossing his face.

Just as it’s important to fly the flags properly, Wingate says it’s just as important to make sure they are put away properly.

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“When I take them down I give them a military fold-up, and then give them to the switchboard operator,” he said.

When the owner of a U.S. flag has a question about flag etiquette, he or she can turn to the local posts of the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign War for help.

If Old Glory is being carried in a group of three or more flags, it is held higher then the rest. Casket flags are folded and placed so that the field of blue is draped over the left shoulder of the deceased.

Flown in what would otherwise be considered an inappropriate fashion, an upside down flag can be used to show distress.

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One of the oldest flag shops in the county is American Eagle Flags & Banners, on Main Street in Ventura, and Flag Day is always a happy time of the year for co-owners Dan Lanshe and his wife, Carol.

“I would say our business goes up about 20% around Flag Day,” said Dan Lanshe.

The U.S. flags the Lanshes sell are available in cotton, nylon or polyester. The largest is 10 feet by 15 feet.

While sales of the red, white and blue increase this time of year, Lanshe says flags from other countries stay strong year-round.

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“We sell a lot of foreign flags that people can’t get in their own countries,” Lanshe said. “They’ll take their own flag, a U.S. flag and a California flag back to their own country.”


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