They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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Flag Day

I've Lived Under Three Flags

Technically. Though the 49-star flag wasn't around for very long. (grin) But I was born before Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union as states, and the current 50-star flag was adopted on 4 July 1960, a couple of months before my second birthday. So the 48-star flag above is "one of mine". I do remember seeing some still being flown into the 1960s, but for the most part the 48-star flag always seems to me to belong to another generation. My generation begat that new-fangled 50-star flag and so far there've been no serious attempts to change that, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Northern California and the Upper Peninsula notwithstanding.

As an American who grew up with the flag, of course it's the flag. I've watched Canada change their flag, and any number of revolutions change the flags of countries 'round the world. But the Stars and Stripes have, with some variety and variation by custom and design, been around for over two hundred years. Having grown up with this flag and seeing it all over the place, it seems "right" to me, but that's a cultural bias and upbringing. I'm sure that those who have served their country, been rescued as Americans abroad, adopted the United States as their new home, been helped -- or hurt -- by the United States abroad, all these people probably have a different and at times more visceral reaction to seeing the American flag.

It still bothers me when I see people displaying the U.S. flag improperly, particularly flags in serious disrepair and distress. But then I've lived most of my life in small towns, where you often find people who think like that. (grin)

If you think about it, this country which has such a history of change, doesn't have a lot of universal symbols. We didn't have a formal national anthem for a long time. Indeed, at times the Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee and God Bless America have all had prominence even in addition to the Star Spangled Banner. But the U.S. flag is very much a representative symbol, even being the subject of our national anthem. And when the country fractured in a serious Civil War, the Confederacy adopted a flag with many of the same symbols.

Any damn fool can wave the flag and proclaim themselves to be a true patriot, but the fact is we all are -- or none of us are. America was founded on division and diversity, but united (not always successfully) in a common purpose.

I cannot fully express what seeing the flag does for me, but it triggers something inside that I recognize each and every time, no matter how large or small or isolated or numerous. It can fill me with pride or it can fill me with annoyance or even disgust when used to promote people and ideals I find disagreeable. But that's not the flag's fault.

The flag is the flag.

This one just happens to be mine.

Folding the U.S. flag -- from Wikipedia.

Dr. Phil
Tags: history, united states

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