Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where have all the flags gone?

Back a few years ago, you couldn't go anywhere, public or private with out seeing a flag. In the days after 9/11/2001, people slapped the American flag up in the most unlikely places.

Now you would be hard pressed to find a flag anywhere. Where did they go? When did we stop displaying our pride in America? When did we decide that it wasn't important anymore?

One woman told me she quit displaying her flag when we sent soldiers to Iraq. Why? What does an unpopular war have to do with patriotism? Does it make our country less desirable? Does it mean that our support of the men and women in our military is less important? Our demonstration of our lack of faith in our country (not political party!) will do the terrorists job for them. They sowed the seeds of division and a bumper crop bloomed.

You see, when I was growing up, we were proud of our country. Were there things that needed to be fixed? Of course. Were we involved in a stupid war? Heck, yes. Was there violence and rioting? Without doubt. But that didn't mean that we weren't proud of our country.

We said the pledge every morning in school. We stood at attention when the flag went by. Men removed their hats. People were quiet in respect. It grieves me when I watch the beginning of a ball game such as the one yesterday and the camera pans across people chatting, or scratching their privates, or slouching in their seats. I want to shake them and say, "Wake up! This is your flag and your national anthem! Show respect!"

It seems that we've confused the conditions--economic and political--with the place. The United States of America. Regardless of our economic woes, most of us wouldn't want to live anywhere else. We aren't the only place in the world dealing with poverty, war, or stupid politicians.

I think it's a symptom of the general malaise in our country. When we fail to take ownership, when we fail to vote or write to our congressman about issues, when we don't stand up to be counted, then we fail all those who have struggled in the past to keep our country free. We fail those who worked so that we have the freedom to vote or worship as we choose or live where we please.

Pride in our country begins with each one of us--individually--demonstrating how we feel. Maybe we should dig around and find that flag--the one we dumped in the closet or a drawer. Dust it off and display it with pride. It's my country and yours, a place that people have fought, died and sacrificed to keep free.

What about you? What does America mean to you?



  1. I agree with you. We may not agree with the politics of things but in this country dissent is patriotic.We were founded on dissent. Write your congressman, vote, march if you must but it doesn't mean we lack a love of country and shouldn't show respect.

  2. By the same token, back when everyone had flags everywhere, I was more often than not distressed at the *condition* of those flags--left out so long they were completely tattered, grimy, and ruined. To me, that is worse than not flying a flag at all.

    I've never been a big flag person. The absence of a flag doesn't mean a lack of patriotism. I personally have been ashamed of our international activities, our disrespect for other countries, and the assault on our own Constitution over the last few years. Flag flying as blind cheerleading, giving no thought to what's happening in the country or no *real* support for our troops, is no great achievement either.

    I'll probably make a lot of people angry with this post, but I guess I don't much care.

  3. I have to agree with Elissa -- I don't view displaying the flag as a symbol of patriotism. But I also agree with Anny -- we need to buy into the country and participate. If flying the flag is your form of partipation, then go for it.

    I also feel we need to show respect for our symbols, and I agree, people should at least feign respect when the National Anthem plays or the flag goes by. I don't participate at church services when people pray (at the funerals and weddings I've attended), but I do at least bow my head and appear attentive. That's my way of showing respect for the beliefs of others.

    Every day I read stories in the BBC and other world papers about atrocities elsewhere. I am fortunate to be a woman in America. I'd probably be dead or in jail if I lived somewhere else.

    But that said, I have to admit to ambivalence about America. I was not proud of the country we'd become. I'm hoping to be proud of the country we can be.

    For too long we've used our past glory to disguise our current problems. I think the recession, war, and general Hard Times are going to make us take a realistic look at our country and its policies and procedures (and force us, as individuals, to do the same). I believe that can only be a good thing. The bubble has burst. It's time to see what's left.

    I believe America can remake itself into something better than what we were. I believe this is our chance to show the world that we can indeed make this a better place and set an example.

    History will tell ...

  4. Hmmm. Well, I always welcome differing opinions as they make me take a second look.

    So perhaps I should have said, "Where is our love of country?" You can love your child, family, or country without loving their actions or even condoning their actions.

    You can love your country without being happy at the corruption of political parties or corporations. When you love your country, you DO try to make it a better place.

    Elissa, I certainly agree with you about the condition of some flags. Flying a tattered, dirty flag is no more respectful than no flying one at all. I guess it distresses me that our symbols have fallen on hard times.

    And I would point out that a COUNTRY cannot make bad decisions, fight a war, be disrespectful of other people. The PEOPLE--both elected and private--are the ones that represent our country. We're the ones who decide whether to permit our representatives to behave badly. When we don't protest their actions in concrete ways, then people in other countries believe that we approve. Maybe even our fellow countrymen believe that, too.

  5. The men and women were sent. It's done. Not showing patriotism doesn't bring them back, it only says that the cause they fight for isn't important enough to encourage them to live through it. I hope no one actually feels that way. They're there already, so support them. Encourage them, let them know that no matter your politics your country and its people are more important than homeland bickering.

  6. I guess I would respond by saying that love of country should be displayed in concrete ways: living up to our responsibilities, making sure everyone can exercise their rights, taking care of our neighbors, and behaving with dignity and courtesy when overseas.

    I always knew my parents loved me, even though they never put a "My child is a superstar" bumper sticker on their car.