JANUARY 7, 1939
WASHINGTON, Friday—The last time we had one of the state receptions here I mentioned the flag ceremony, and since then I have had a number of requests to describe this ceremony. I thought I had done it fully before, but since it is one of the few ceremonies which is a tradition, perhaps it will bear repetition.
In the President's study on the second floor of the White House, on either side of the fireplace, or back of his desk, there usually stand two flags, the flag of the United States and the President's flag. Two similar flags are in his office in the executive office building.
On nights when there is a state reception, these flags are taken downstairs during the period of the reception and are placed outside of the Blue Room while the President is receiving the guests and are returned to their places in the study after he goes upstairs.
A color guard consisting of four men under an officer, comes for the flags about ten minutes before the President goes downstairs. The usher comes into the room and announces that the color guard would like to take the flags. Everybody in the room stands up. The color guard comes in, faces the flags, salutes, reforms, and marches out. During the ceremony everybody in the room remains standing and at attention. When the flags are returned, the same ceremony takes place and the usher announces the color guard. The color guard marches into the room bearing the flags, places them in their stands, goes back to position, salutes the flags, falls into formation and marches out.
The other night I heard someone suggest that we do not do enough in this country to awaken an interest and reverence for the flag and for our national anthem. The suggestion, I think, was made that in many places of entertainment the flag should be displayed and the national anthem played, either at some time during the evening or at the close of the evening.
Later I noticed a letter in one of our local papers saying that this had been done here the other evening in a motion picture theatre, and that the audience had not come to its feet or stood at attention, evidently not realizing that this was the mark of respect which should be paid to the flag and the anthem in any place at any time. I really do not know whether it is wise in this way to build up our bump of reverence, which is not very pronounced in this country. A little more of it would probably do us no harm, however.
Today is like a spring day and I had a wonderful ride this morning. The Washington climate reminds me of a great many other things in life—you should enjoy it day by day with as little thought of the past and of the future as possible. In other words, be thankful for your blessings and live in the moment.