August 30, 2003

Respecting the Flag

Over at You Can Call Me Al, his latest post is about a pet peeve of his, namely flag etiquette. I read it a couple of times, trying to figure out what he was actually trying to say. Parts of it seemed to be attempted humor, but other parts were over the top and offensive to me.

The US Flag flies in front of my house every day of the year. It is illuminated at night. When it gets worn I replace it. I understand flag etiquette. I love my country and I stand for the national anthem. I proudly say the pledge of allegiance. I've participated in official flag disposals, and have been moved to tears by the ceremony. I hate to see the flag being burned in anger or protest.

I was also somewhat of a pariah at my American Legion post because I refused to sign a petition for the Flag Amendment. I didn't serve my country for the flag. I served for what the flag stands for. Idiots burning the flag are just as right as fools demanding an amendment to protect it. If you look at countries around the world where it is against the law to dishonor the flag, you'll find that most of those countries are autocratic tyrannies. Because the flag there represents the government, and not the ideals on which that government is based. Big difference.

The protester setting an American flag on fire is, in a painful sort of logic, a powerful example of American freedom in action.

If you see someone displaying a flag incorrectly, you talk to them and help them get it right. If they care enough to display the flag in the first place, you'll find they appreciate the assistance. An attitude of "get it right or don't bother" just isn't what it's all about.

Posted by Ted at August 30, 2003 08:26 PM
Category: Politics

What you say is exactly right. The flag is a symbol of the the United States. We salute and respect the flag for what it stands for, not for the symbol itself. The oaths of enlistment and office make the distinction as well: We swear to "support and defend the Constitution" (not, as in some countries, a man or other changeable set of ideas).

It is the ideas and rights of liberty and personal determination that make America great. But since we can't hold those ideas in our hands, or drape them on the coffins of soldiers and statesmen, we use the flag to convey the message. For that reason, the flag and it's treatment is very important to me.

If I appeared flippant or otherwise intolerant of well-meaning and Patriotic Americans, I offer my apologies. America is a great place filled with great people and I want it to be a place where we can all be responsible to the level of freedom we have been given and take pride in the symbols that unite us.

Posted by: Alan at September 1, 2003 12:30 AM
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