It seems that in this age of constantly trying to be politically correct we have lost some of our core values as a country. We are a country that was created on freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly as stated in the first Amendment. The United States Flag is a representation of our nation and these freedoms. After the attack on our country on September 11, 2001 there was a resurgence of people displaying the flag to show their love of our country and patriotism. Unfortunately since then the flag has also been utilized inappropriately as a political statement.
Recently a friend of mine had an experience while waiting in line at a drive thru restaurant where she saw a United States flag sticker that was upside down. She got the driver’s attention and questioned him about this, the person’s response was “Yep, I’m anti Obama,” her response was “Oh, I’m so confused. I didn’t know disliking our president meant being anti- American.” To which the driver responded with an inappropriate gesture. Two days before I heard about her experience I was attending a flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion where we were respectfully going through the process of burning flags that were no longer in condition to be flown (per U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 1 (k) of the US Flag code). During this ceremony a person rode by on a motorcycle and stated “Oh, it’s just a flag burning.”
These two experiences had me thinking a lot about the flag and the representation that it is of our nation. Growing up, I remember learning that you never burn a flag in protest, that a flag should never touch the ground, and that you should stand and show respect during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, but beyond that I didn’t know a lot of the rules regarding the American Flag. I decided it is time to know more about this symbol that so quickly and easily establishes that I am proud to be a United States citizen.
The American flag has been an ever changing representation of our growing nation. It represents a nation of independence, individual liberty and popular sovereignty. Our flag is unique because it doesn’t represent a family or royal house. The flag is a representation of all approximately 300 million citizens of the United States. Congress originally decreed that there should be a star and a stripe for each state, the 13 original colonies/states. As our nation began to grow this decree changed to restrict the number of stripes to 13 representing the original states, but a star would be added for each succeeding state. The last star was added in 1959 after Hawaii was admitted as a state by President Eisenhower.
After reading the flag code my friend had every right to question the person displaying a flag upside down because the first item in the flag code states (a) 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. Based on the person’s response I doubt he was in dire distress. As for the person that rode by our flag retirement ceremony, all I can think is that it was an uninformed statement. I know until recently I had never attended or even knew that the American Legion did ceremonies like this, but now I am honored to have been a part of this ceremony and look forward to attending in the future.
I have enjoyed learning more detailed information about the United States Flag and all that it represents. Please stay tuned for additional information in future posts, I would also like to hear your feelings on this national symbol.