Many more letters have arrived about my Flag Day column, two of which really ought to be mentioned.
M.K. wrote: "I liked your column about the American Flag, but tell me this: If you respect it so much, why don't you spell "flag" with a capital F when it refers to the Flag??"
Every major publication follows its own "style" rules for reasons that have been carefully weighed by its editors. One if free to disagree with any set of rules. The editors minds as time passes. Sometimes they do.
Last year, The Washington Post's style book told us to capitalize "president" when it referred to the nation's chief executive, but the District of Columbia government's departments were not to be capitalized. We were supposed to write "metropolitan police department."
Today's Post style no longer capitalizes "president" but does capitalize "Metropolitan Police Department."
When reference was made here to the chief justice of the United States the other day, I capitalized "Chief Justice." The copy desk knocked it down. A copy editor explained, "We don't capitalize 'president' any more because we don't capitalize 'king' or 'queen.' If the president doesn't rate caps, surely the chief justice doesn't either."
"But it's still permissible to capitalize 'United States,' isn't it?" I asked bitterly. He pointed a stern finger at me and then made the kind of motion umpires make when they throw a batter out of a baseball game for arguing.
The other flag letter that needs to be mentioned came from Brig. Gen. Charles C. Drake of Annandale, who wrote:
"I want to thank you for the fine tribute you wrote to our Flag in today's column. I served for 40 years under the Flag, and I would serve for 40 more if it were possible.
"In World War I, I commanded an infantry battalion at the front. In World War II, I served on Gen. MacArthur's staff in the Philippines. I became a prisoner of war when Corregidor fell, and remained such to the end of the war.
"During this time I carried a small silk Flag wherever I went. It stood me in good stead once when I was traveling in a truck through the crowded streets of Mukden, Manchuria. I had placed my Flag on the front end of my truck. When the Chinese saw it, they went wild, throwing their arms in the air and making the sign of victory with their fingers. They gave me the right of way as the truck moved slowly along. If it had been for my Flag, I would never have made it back to camp with food for 1,700 starving POWs. I still have my Flag and cherish it."
You will notice, dear colleagues on the copy desk, that all those capital-F Flags are inside quotations markss. Let 'em alone.