Special Reports

Fair parade leads to trouble in 1968

As we head into another great year of the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo it's interesting to look back at this column written by Jack Briggs in 1968. Apparently people were a mite contentious too, back then.

Not all fun at the fair

By Jack Briggs

Published on August 28, 1968

If you looked hard during last Saturday's Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo parade through downtown Kennewick you might have noticed:

-- That the Kennewick American Legion contingent was scowling.

-- That the Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard was missing.

-- That Kennewick High School band wasn't as high-stepping as usual.

-- And that parade chairman Bill Jones looked mildly annoyed.

A squabble about how to fly the Stars and Stripes and which band should head the parade had led Jones to announce, "That's it. I won't chairman a parade like that ever again."

The reason the parade was 10 minutes late in getting started was that both the Columbians Drum and Bugle Corps and the Kennewick High School band wanted to lead it. Both threatened they'd pull out if they couldn't. The Columbians were already fighting mad at Don Paul, the high school band director, who, because of friction between the groups, has announced that musicians must decide which group they'll belong to. They can no longer belong to both.

In the past, say the Columbians, the idea has been the youths play with the Columbians during the summer and the high school band during the school year. Paul's ultimatum has cost him three band members.

Jones gave the nod to the Colombians Saturday to lead the parade on the grounds they'd won the marching trophy the previous year. Which should work out well as a precedent. The Kennewick band won this year.

The problem with the veterans revolved around whether the flag should be allowed to fly.

Jones claims that it has been the custom to have the honor guard leading the parade fly the flag free and have everyone salute it, and then have the units following hold the tail of the flag against the staff, which he claims means people need not honor it. That way they're not bobbing up and down.

The VFW said if they couldn't fly the Stars and Stripes free they wouldn't march. And they didn't. The commander of the Kennewick post of the American Legion said the decision came to him too late to pull out of the parade. Or he would have.

Comdr.. Warren Tanner said, "We were being told we had to muffle the flag."

Jones said etiquette supports him: That he and the chamber wrote some place a couple of years ago and was told the lead flag should fly free and the rest could be furled.

However, the Flag Code adopted by Congress in 1942 would seem to support the veterans. Though it doesn't refer specifically to flags in a parade, it does state that, "The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free."

The pertinent word is "free."Also the research librarians at the Richland library could find no mention of the fact that there's no need to salute the flag merely because it's held against a staff.

However, it would seem to be a minor matter and certainly not one of sufficient consequence to have veterans pulling out of parades, Jones pulling out of the Fair organization and people making phone calls to Jones and calling him everything from a "pinkie" to a "flag burner."

Perhaps there's some flag expert among our readers who can give the Fair Board some direction as to how things should be done next year.