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  • Lance Mannion
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From one holiday to another... you've made me think of fathers and sons, and wonder if you caught NPR's Talk Of The Nation yesterday (online audio archive awaits), talking about "what fathers teach sons" and Conn Iggulden's Dangerous Book for Boys. That conversation was a good start to something that might get a lot more interesting from your own experiences. Just a thought.

mac macgillicuddy

My father wouldn't fly the flag during the Vietnam War either. I remember asking him why, too, and his answer was similar. I always thought that one day he'd go back to flying it--because he always had--but he never did. Ever. And he always devoted his life to public service, and I knew good citizenship was important to him. But I never asked him why he never flew the flag again, though I suspect I know why.

This isn't why; this is strictly my reason for not flying the flag:

*They* can have it. I'm wary of patriotism. It's an odd thing to me, in a modern world, where no problem, and no solution, is confined to a single shore, and where no solution, if it is, will really stick. Patriotism--and by patriotism, I don't mean citizenship, which is different--seems an invented emotion, to me, from people who want to make me feel like it makes sense to have lifelong enemies I never met, and even go to war with them when they decide it's time. Patriotism is the pall they lay over, at best, surfdom, and worst, cannon fodder.

So *they* can have patriotism, too. It's all theirs.

Chris the cop

Nice, nuanced post, Lance.

Kevin Wolf

If the Ship of State is not in distress now, I don't know when it has been in the past 30 years. It seems almost appropriate to fly the flag upside down.

As I've said elsewhere re the "flag amendment" that seeks to ban burning the flag (and probably curtail many other forms of flag protest), the flag is a symbol -- not a sacred relic. You can't legislate people's feelings toward a symbol. Trying to force reverence for an symbol is something Nazis would try. (Patriotism seems like the first step toward unbridled nationalism.)

I, too, don't disrepect the flag. I'd never burn one in protest. (I think it's a stupid way to make a point anyway.) I might fly one upside down if so moved, but probably not. I'm sure these feelings come from a similar place as yours, Lance. I don't want to give up on Old Glory. We "liberals" have more of a claim to it than the crooks wearing it as their cover/excuse these days.


I remember a quote from a French politician in the 80s which went something like "I think patriotism is fine as a sentiment, but I don't understand why for Americans it is an ideology." Seems to have that French combination of truth and superciliousness, but it makes me wonder if this whole us v. them on the flag thing is yet another version of American exceptionalism.


The flag at its finest, fluttering in a stiff breeze against a cloudless blue sky, can represent the best of us as Americans. All too often, the flag is hijacked to a specific point of view, usually with overtones of some being more patriotic than the next.

I haven't gotten over the last spasm that started on 9/11/2001 and reached a fever pitch in 2003 leading up to our Iraq misadventure. Old beat up, four door Ford sedans looking like embassy staff cars in some third world country. Pickup truck beds flying flags sized for more for public buildings. Pledge of Allegiance fervor lending a sense of paranoia to public meetings. (I make it a point to just move my lips and fake it).

Like your father, I don't fly the flag; not so much as a specific protest, but more of an acknowledgement of its misappropriation.

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