Memorial Day honors those who gave their lives in service of their country.
Personally, I’m not much of a flag flyer. Unlike some who fly the flag daily, I only fly the flag on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. I’m rather attached to the flag that I fly. It is old and faded, but it has a story.
Many years ago while shopping the annual, Westcliffe, Methodist Church yard sale, I came across a 48-star flag. It was a casket flag. And I was appalled that a family would part with an American flag that had draped the casket of a loved one. This was seriously worse than neglecting to pull weeds and put flowers on the grave of the deceased. This flag was of government issue to the family of a man who a man who had served his country! This weekend, the flag flies. So faded at this point, that, not knowing the story, my neighbors might be offended by its sorry state. I will buy a new flag, but it won’t have the resonance of this storied flag.
I believe in a flag that reflects the values and ideals of the Founding Fathers, and I honor those who have served or are serving in the military, but it seems that flag-flying has been co-opted by the Far-Right. True Patriots fly the flag (the bigger the better) on their sleeves and on the bumpers of their cars and pick-up trucks.
The flag has taken on a patriotic, populist fervor that is far to the right of mainstream Conservatives. The flag wavers have moved beyond limited government, low taxes and law and order to embrace (to varying degrees) isolationism, nativism, antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and homophobia. Believing that America is going to hell-in-a-handbasket, they (flags flying and armed) will save our country with belligerent rhetoric and if necessary, fire power.
If you missed Frontline’s documentary on Cliven Bundy’s fight with the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid, federal land, cattle grazing fees (withheld by Bundy since 1993 and currently totalling one million dollars), I recommend “The Battle Over Bunkerville: The Bundys, the Federal Government and the New Militia Movement” by Sarah Childress. The documentary originally aired on PBS, May 16, 2017, but you can download the program. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-battle-over-bunkerville/
Bundy took a stand, and supporters rallied to his cause. The political polarization that we worry about is growing. If we were to think of the polarization in terms of bacteria, it is a virulent form and is multiplying exponentially. Anything we can do to turn down the heat is a step in the right direction.
Fly the flag, but don’t fly it in my face if your flag doesn’t stand for the same values that my flag stands.