To the Editor:

Alex Hetherington ’06 (“The offense of an upside-down flag,” 4/11) and others don’t seem to know the conventional meaning of displaying the American flag upside down. According to the U.S. Flag Code, Section 4a, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

Very likely, the protesters (whether knowingly or not) were thinking in terms of “dire distress” and not “defamation of our flag,” as Hetherington has it.

For the unnecessary deaths of thousands and the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars, “dire” isn’t far wrong.

Martin Ewing

April 11, 2003

The writer is a visiting fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering.