Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What so proudly we hailed...once upon a time

June 14 has been Flag Day for over one hundred years, but it wasn’t until 1949 that then President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress making June 14 National Flag Day.

Alternately known as “Old Glory”, “The Stars and Stripes”, “Red, White, and Blue”, and “The Star Spangled Banner”, The American Flag has flown above government buildings, been carried into battle, draped coffins, adorned graves, been displayed in schools and churches, waved during patriotic celebrations, saluted, pledged to, worn as lapel pins and uniform patches, and, once tattered beyond respectability, properly disposed of by veterans’ and scout groups.

If I’d written that one hundred years ago, I could stop. Sadly, in more recent years the symbol of the United States of America has been set aflame, ripped, spat on, stomped on, defecated on, and removed/banned from public places for fear of “offending” someone.

One hears, “Well, if they (those who show contempt and disrespect for the flag as a symbol of America) don’t like this country, let them leave. They won’t be missed.” The last statement is probably true--how can one miss what one abhors (the action, not the actor). But is that really the answer? It’s like raking leaves in the fall--you never get them all, and the next year they’re back.

I fly my flag proudly. Because I have solar lighting trained on it, it’s spotlighted at night and can thus remain 24/7. So far, the powers that be in this subdivision haven’t written it out of acceptability, but if they ever do, I won’t take it down without a fight.

Ignorance and intolerance of patriotism, religion, and other cultural beliefs, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s incumbent on individuals who, after all, make up communities, towns, states, and ultimately this country, to take a stand for decency and respect. Those concepts are taught first at home and then in the institutions tasked with educating children to become productive adults--i.e. our schools.

Growing up, my generation pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We stood, hands on hearts, when the band played the national anthem at athletic events. Our parents and teachers were quick to call us out for any disrespect--even unintentional.

This generation goes with the flow, whatever feels good at the moment, and no one says a word about it. Sometimes, if someone speaks out, they become the “bad guys”--thanks in part to the news media. I wonder if, like Pandora’s Box, once the lid is lifted and the ugliness allowed to escape, it can ever be put back again and contained.

We can only hope.

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