LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Stan Eastman is a third generation flag-waver.
Every Fourth of July, his grandparents stretched a giant flag between two trees while guests marched around the swimming pool singing the Star Spangled Banner.
His father, Clint, still raises his flag in Newport Beach every morning, while playing the national anthem or other marching band music.
So when war broke out in the Persian Gulf, it was natural for Eastman, 36, to drape a 15-by-20-foot flag over his house in Rio Linda, near Sacramento.
For Eastman and many other Americans, displaying Old Glory has taken on new meaning as war in Iraq continues.
″I believe in what our troops are doing,″ Eastman said. ″Unfortunately this is the only way I can show my support. I wanted a bigger flag but I couldn’t find one.″
U.S. troops fighting in the Middle East are on Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Fortin’s mind as he raises the flag over the Marina del Rey substation.
″I think of the guys fighting under its cover,″ said the former Boy Scout and member of the Coast Guard. ″I wish them the best and sometimes I say a quick little prayer in my head. I guess everybody does that.″
″For me the flag represents the divine law of what is moral and just,″ said Arthur Sanabria, custodian at the Veteran’s Hospital in West Los Angeles and a member of the National Guard.
The American flag has been waved at many pro-troop rallies around the country since war erupted last week. But it also has been burned in anti-war protests.
In Minneapolis, about 400 demonstrators watched last week as an American flag was hurled into a burning trash container. In Baltimore, nine high school students were suspended for burning a U.S. flag in the courtyard of their school.
The night war began, 17-year-old Ryan Calwell of Seattle was among those who set fire to an American flag in San Francisco. ″Right now, the flag symbolizes the government, not the people,″ he said.
Those who proudly wave Old Glory hold flag-burners in contempt.
″When I see people deface the flag it bugs me,″ Raymon said. ″It’s a symbol of freedom in this country.″
″It’s a sign of freedom and it reminds us of what we’re fighting for,″ said Dennis Graumann, an aircraft mechanic at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.
But it’s also a grim reminder of what war can mean.
″American flags are also used to cover coffins,″ Graumann said.