Privilege Blog

Flying The Flag

On 9/11 I think about those who lost someone they loved. And those who had to witness or experience death and chaos. People’s bodies falling through the air. Life, short, fragile, and so sweet I feel it on my teeth, says, “I’m yours forever. I am. Believe me.” Not quite true. If today the collective focus of so many has an impact, if our hopes, for those who hope, and prayers, for those who pray, have import, I hope most of all that peace has come to anyone with personal experience of 9/11.

A liberal who votes as a Democrat, I haven’t had much of a relationship with the American flag. Not since I wore it printed on a cotton t-shirt in 1968. As a pre-teen engaged in standard pre-teen attempts at cool. Our flag has come to mean either god-fearing and conservative, or, when posted in miniature in a bank window, dollars exchanged here. After 9/11 I went to the local nursery and bought 30 seedlings in little green plastic pots. I planted a garden in my front yard. Red, white, and blue flowers. In those days following it seemed for the first time in my adult life that we all belonged to America and America belonged to all of us.

We’ve since reverted. Political fighting divvies up the country. People shout at each other, on television, in forums that are supposed to be about health or law or even college admissions. I’m not a political person. I hate arguing, and I do not intend now or ever to start stating any of my few opinions here. I understand I don’t have enough information to tell anyone else what to do or how to think.

I am, however, clear that we all have the right to be proud of our country. I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve never found anywhere else in the world that does it better for more people than we do. Despite disagreements. Despite ways in which I might want America to do better, and you might want America to do better, and the fact that our ideas of what “better” means might be completely different.

If I can hope one more thing? That the concept of patriotism be left large, not small. I’d like for everyone to be able to fly a flag, because I hope there are more of us who love America than not. I hope that America, if we are to honor the good we can all agree on, remains a large idea. Not to abuse cheap sentiment or anything, but I’ve got kids out there.

Image: Jim Frazier’s Photostream on Flickr

14 Responses

  1. Thank you. And I hope no one takes offense. None is meant. Oddly, a fire truck just pulled up outside in my cul-de-sac. They are walking into my neighbor's house. I will take it as a message and thank them.

  2. I think this is a time to be proud as well. Proud that we're still here; proud that we've rebuilt (at least to some extent). A somber pride … but pride nonetheless.

    It's gray and overcast today. Perhaps that's appropriate.

  3. What a beautiful post. I just don't understand why you might feel that because you're a democrat you can't have a relationship with the flag? As a conservative, myself, I do not feel ownership of the flag. I don't think it represents "god-fearing and conservative" at all. I guess I see it as the symbol of freedom to have any political opinion, and the symbol under which we all unite regardless of our opinions on policy. I'm so glad you planted the flowers, and I hope that you can start to feel a better relationship with our flag. Its everyone's to fly, not just the good ol' boy's! :)

  4. I'm in for the vote of patriotism.
    I'm tired of all the political banterings that break our great country down…
    Thanks for your post.
    Well said.

  5. Lovely photo.

    I'm an American who happens to be pretty liberal and mostly vote for Democrats and I fly the American flag on my front porch every day.

  6. I hope all those people in Northern Cali are doing OK with all those fires. In times of trial, that is when people band together.

  7. What a lovely post. However, I do agree with Princess Freckles, the American flag does not just represent conservatives. Having lived in numerous thrid world countries I believe I can say this firsthand. To the world our flag represents much more than "god-fearing and conservatives." Our flag represents the many faces of America, it represents hope, it represents freedom and a chance at a better life for so many! It is everyone's to fly!

  8. Thanks Kappa. You might all like to know that in my new understanding of the belief that our flag is everyone's to fly, I'm using the photo from this post as my screen saver now.

  9. As a very much right-leaning Republican, your blog post gave me shivers – thank you so much. Very well stated without political angst, just a noble nod to our great country (however flawed). I've got kids out there too: one in the Air Force, one in the Navy and a 13-year-old with his heart set on the the Air Force Academy.

Comments are closed.