Just in time for Flag Day.
I saw some poll (which, of course, I cannot locate currently) which asked people if they fly the American flag on certain occasions (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, et al.). The results were 56-44 in the affirmative. What was surprising to me was that there was zero percent “don’t know/undecided” which always shows up in these things; maybe the pollsters attribute the non-responses to the yes/no responses.
I have no tradition of flying the flag. My parents didn’t when I was growing up, though I did note one at my mother’s house in recent years. Whereas my wife’s family put out their flag all the time.
I think part of my feeling about the flag derived from the Vietnam war era, where people who loved their country but opposed its war were told to “love it or leave it.” Well, I did/do love it, but never thought blind obedience to its activities was the right way to love. Would a parent show love for its child by agreeing to ice cream with every meal? But the “love or leave it” crowd seemed to, quite literally, be the flag wavers, seemingly leaving no room for dissent.
I was fascinated by a recent story in the local paper which seems to touch on my feelings:
VETS FOR PEACE SAY THE FLAG IS THEIRS, TOO
Elks lodge says group can’t march as themselves in June 19 parade
DENNIS YUSKO, STAFF WRITER
Date: Saturday, June 5, 2010
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local Elks lodge’s decision to ban Veterans For Peace from identifying themselves in the city’s annual Flag Day Parade has some Saratoga County vets asking to whom the American flag belongs.
The Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161 will not allow members of VFP’s Saratoga Springs-Adirondack Chapter 147 to carry the banners or wear shirts with the group’s name in the June 19 parade. Members of the veterans peace group who wish to march in the parade would have to do so under flags of other veterans organizations, like Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion.
“If you want to protest the flag, you have 364 days a year to do it,” said Kenneth Tubbs, parade organizer and lecturing knight at the Elks lodge.
And I have to wonder, as the local paper’s editorial asks, how is supporting peace “protesting the flag”?
I was in a Bible study this past year, and someone of my “liberal” theological persuasion talked about how the liberal church should “reclaim the flag.” I think I’m wary of mixing church and state, not just in the American tradition of separating those, but from the whole historic sense of the church becoming co-opted by the state – “divine right of kings,” and the like.
The flag circa 1865-66, after Nevada, and before Nebraska became states.
All this said, I really like the United States flag. I like how it tells a story in its 13 stripes and 50 stars. I like how it got up to 15 stripes, and somebody said, “Nope, this isn’t going to work.” I like how the US Code has specific rules for how the stars would line up if we got more states. And I get testy when the flag is ill-used, especially by those who choose to honor it, yet fly some raggedy old thing, about which I’ve written before.
And I’m fascinated how the Daughter is excited about “America’s birthday” next month. She LOVES the flag, and I’ll do nothing to dissuade her.
All this to ask:
1. Do you own a flag of your country? (If you’re not from the US, please note.) I do own some small flags.
2. When, if ever, do you fly it? Here are the recommended days in the US. EASTER? I had no idea, and find that mildly disturbing.