Secondary Flags Should be Just That, Secondary
Flags are becoming a big topic these days. We have a flag for almost everything. I’ll fully admit, I’m a certified flag dork. I especially love colonial American flags (Join or Die, Don’t Tread on Me, etc). There are also plenty of people that like to usher in the seasons with their Summer, Spring, Winter or Fall flags flying proudly from their house. Add in any number of sports flags to boot and it’s amazing we can even see our houses through all the logos waving proudly in the wind.
Flags can be fun, they can tell a story and they can help us identify with a group or subset of like minded individuals. They can also be divisive or even downright evil. The Don’t Tread on Me flag mentioned above has been used by some white nationalist groups over the years while a black swastika on a field of white represents a regime so horrid I don’t even have to define it any further.
Flags are normally secondary within America, the flag of our country taking a primary position a majority of the time. Yet, more and more, we’re beginning to see the flags people identify with as their first flag of choice. Black Lives Matter, Trump (MAGA), LGBTQ+, etc. All of these are beginning to assume a place of both prominence and definition of being. I’m a Trump voter, therefore that flag represents me. I’m either gay/lesbian/queer/etc, therefore the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride flag defines me. I support Black Lives Matter so this flag best defines who I am. Flags are great, except when used in this way. The American flag is being slowly and, what appears to be, deliberately marginalized.
Go down most suburban neighborhood streets and you’ll see multiple American flags. Hanging proudly in front of houses, they symbolize everything that America is and has been throughout our history. This includes the good and the bad by the way. There’s no way to separate the two from one another. I always find it funny when people say, “that flag doesn’t represent me.” Sure it does. There is no other flag that could represent you as a citizen of this country. You can certainly have secondary flags that represent you as well but the primary should always be the American flag.
What about those items that “bastardize” the American flag? This is also an issue. Similar to what’s done with the UK Union Jack, the stars and stripes are draped over every piece of clothing from skirts and bikinis to tank tops and hats adorned with glitter. People wear them as a point of pride, that much is true. But could there be anything more disrespectful to those who laid down their lives for our freedom than our flag being reduced to a $0.99 beer koozie or bottle opener? Noting the price, you can guess both of these items aren’t made in America either.
I visited my old neighborhood recently. I was always proud that I was able to buy a condo at 27 years old in one of the older, more established neighborhoods of Charlotte. My condo would definitely be considered the “low rent” district of my neighbors considering the houses around me were hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what I could afford. Crazy enough, those same houses are now millions of dollars while my old condo has basically doubled in value. Time will do that in the case of real estate, especially nowadays.
The houses I passed on my stroll through memory lane were as beautiful as ever; however, I did notice one glaring issue that dispels what I considered to be true everywhere. Limited patriotism in the form of American flags. I must’ve passed at least 50 houses. Of those 50, I counted 3 American flags. If we were doing the math, this is about 6% of the sample size I was able to witness. That’s incredibly surprising and pretty depressing if I’m being honest. In years past, you would’ve seen closer to 33% or maybe even 50% of the houses with an American flag proudly displayed somewhere on the property.
I observed this trend when I was visiting Charleston earlier this summer as well. Using a similar wealth indicator (given the type and location of homes), the Charleston houses were sparse with American flags but had plenty of Ukrainian and other flags hanging from their homes. I found this both odd and slightly disheartening.
This got me thinking. Why are these people, who are so obviously wealthy and have gained this wealth through this great nation of ours, not necessarily proud to display their patriotism? Do they think they could have accrued such wealth in a different country so it simply doesn’t matter where they live? I’m not sure of the answer but I can venture a guess.
I’ve discussed this in previous articles but patriotism is now seen as Alt-right or somehow aligned with Trump. Unfortunately, the American flag falls into this category as well. Trump has done such a great job of appropriating the flag within his propaganda that many are unable to distinguish Trump’s America from the rest of us. This needs to be fixed, and quick.
Many have no issue flying the flag of their favorite sports team from their house. I actually noticed one house on my aforementioned walk that had two flags hanging from their front porch, both representing local sports teams. This isn’t a crime and there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. You and anyone else has every right to hang whatever flag you choose from your house. I do mean, ANY flag. Just be ready for the consequences if one of those happens to offend those around you. It’s a free country but your neighbors are equally free to despise and shun you as they see fit based on what you display.
There are flags that are offensive, of that we can have no doubt. The American flag cannot and should not be one of them. If it is, we will have lost all sense of what it is that we identify with. The American flag is the glue that binds us together. All other flags are simply chapters within the book of our country’s history. You identify with that particular chapter (i.e. BLM, Trump, etc.) and are able to display it for all to see. That’s great and as it should be. But it’s equally important to have the actual book on display as well, to show that we’re all reading from the same text. To mitigate or slowly eliminate the American flag from our houses, restaurants, or sports stadiums is to remove the book binding from the book altogether, allowing the pages to scatter in the wind.
Pride is defined as, “the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated.” Our flag has landed on the moon, won the Indy 500 and been on display for every great achievement in our history. I wasn’t alive when our soldiers fought in the battle of Iwo Jima, but our flag is immortalized in the famous statue, standing proudly on a leaning flagpole. The flag is our great unifer. There is no America without it.
Go ahead and hang the flags of pride for the particular group you identify with but, do me a favor, put the stars and stripes in a place of prominence. You may not have done a ton of things in your life to be proud of, but you can bet our flag has. A symbol of freedom and liberty, it’s the flag of our fathers and mothers. It’s you, me and all of us. Blood has been spilled, battles won and lost and soldiers’ graves draped reverently to honor the ultimate sacrifice they made for your freedom and mine.
We’re all incredibly lucky to have been given the gift of freedom we enjoy on a daily basis. Provide a small token of thanks to lady liberty by proudly displaying her chosen garment in a place of prominence outside your home or office. She may not be able to say thanks, but the rest of us will.
This article was originally published on Reverian.