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May 17, 2007 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Memorial Day in the U.S. is coming up, and my house has a flag-holder on the front porch. I'd like to honor our brave servicepeople -- but I don't want to fly the Stars and Stripes.

My aversion to Old Glory is for political reasons that I hope are only temporary (e.g., literal flag-waving is now equated with its figurative meaning). Also, my right-wing neighbors fly the flag at every opportunity, and announce the coming of the seasons (and every major holiday) with ever-more-retarded banners. I'd like to return the favor with something cool.

I've considered the Peace flag (too literal), the Earth flag (too crunchy-granola), a Pirate flag (too goofy), and the so-called "civilian" flag with vertical stripes -- which seemed like a great idea, until I read all the anti-tax, gold-standard militia craziness attached to it. Right now, I'm partial to the Fort Moultrie flag (google it), which is pretty awesome, but I'm holding out for more.

Caveats:

-- I grok those who say I should fly the Stars and Stripes anyway, to reclaim it from the right-wing crazies. But I respectfully disagree.

-- The Peace Flag is an obvious choice, but it's got a lot of historical baggage. I'd like something specific about our time and place: If there were a flag flown during Watergate, it would be perfect.

-- Yes, I could fly Old Glory upside down. But I'm not on a boat, and it's not sinking.
posted by turducken to Society & Culture (77 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, the POW-MIA flag is patriotic, not "flag-wavey," and it's properly invokes one of war's ugliest facets.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here are some options honoring Veterans specifically.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2007


Make your own flag!
posted by hermitosis at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2007


Also, your right-wing neighbors will kill you if you fly the regular flag ass-end-to.

What about the plain old "black flag of anarchy"? More than likely all this will provoke is discussion. (Or they'll kill you.)
posted by scratch at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2007


Wow, probably you should read this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I say this with the kindness I can muster, but: either your support of the servicepeople is simple and plain and sincere and you could give a crap what your right-wing neighbors think about it, or you're really just using it as a platform to talk about how great your politics are. In which case, fine, but stop claiming that it's about your support of men and women in uniform.

What about a yellow ribbon? That seems a-political. Maybe you could, with some crafty effort, make a big yellow ribbon flag of some kind?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


I agree that POW-MIA is the logical choice.
posted by Partial Law at 12:18 PM on May 17, 2007


I think you have to tread carefully: anything too far from Old Glory could be construed as insulting.

Actually, the word "tread" just gave me an idea: the Don't Tread on Me flag, apparently called the Gadsden flag. I'm headed out the door right now, so I can't do a ton of research, but it seems like it's both patriotic and "different" enough.
posted by fogster at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2007


If you want to honor veterans by a public gesture, you should fly a flag they and passers-by will perceive as honoring them. Hard to think of an alternative to the actual U.S. flag that will fit that bill.

If a private gesture is what you're after, why not make a donation to a charity which benefits veterans and servicemembers, or the families of the deployed? The VA website lists many, many such organizations, and but if you're near a National Guard depot or Army or Marine Corps base (and you probably are near at least one of them) there will local options as well.
posted by MattD at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2007


You could do a flag for a specific military branch, such as the Marine Corp Flag.
posted by smackfu at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2007


Honor our brave servicepeople by organizing a group in your community to send them care packages. Or home.

There is no flag subtle enough to announce your nuanced politics in a way that will not alienate your right-wing neighbors and their retarded flags.

Good luck to you!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:24 PM on May 17, 2007


Thanks for all the great ideas so far... A few things:

- I'm not a big fan of the POW-MIA flag. There's a very specific conspiracy theory attached to the POW side that I don't subscribe to. (And I think we do a very good job with the MIA side -- it's the only time we talk to North Korea with respect.)

- As I'm not a war veteran, I don't want to fly a veteran-organization flag. (I am a USAA member, though. Maybe I can fly their corporate banner.)

- Ambrosia: Great link. Thanks.

- thehmsbeagle: You miss my point: Which is that to fly the Stars and Stripes, at this time in US history, is to appear to agree with my neighbors and their ilk -- people who DON'T support the troops, but rather would send more of them to die in a goofy political gambit. It's a sad situation, but there it is. (And fyi, a giant yellow ribbon is even worse.)

Keep 'em coming, and thanks again.
posted by turducken at 12:26 PM on May 17, 2007


I like the Gadsden Flag, but I would say bar-none your choice should be the black POW/MIA flag. It's "official" and says what you want to say AND your wing-nut neighbors can hardly argue with your choice of that flag. I don't know if you could put a yellow ribbon on the top of that flag, but that might be double-good.

Oh, and hmsbeagle? Have a twinkie, man. Turducken is clearly trying to be respectful and I can completely see his point about flag-waving. It's a shame something so basic has, I would agree, been coopted.
posted by indiebass at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank you for that link, Ambrosia Voyeur.

turducken, I think you should fly the American flag at half staff. It will be a clear, public gesture to the veterans.
posted by juliplease at 12:30 PM on May 17, 2007


You could try one of the old-timey versions of the stars and stripes--like the Betsy Ross version with 13 stars in a circle. That might give you the combination of patriotism and self-aware distance that you're seeking. It's a sticky wicket.
posted by chinston at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2007


Are you saying that a yellow ribbon is even worse, because it's been co-opted in the same way that the flag has? I've always understood that the yellow ribbon was the equivalent of "bring them home". (I say this as someone who has flown a blue star flag more than once in her life.)

If your neighborhood is anything like mine, that you're doing anything at all will be noticed. Flying the traditional flag might feel too much like you're joining "their team" but I do think that a yellow ribbon, for one day, would be a simple and appreciated sentiment.
posted by librarianamy at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2007


at this time in US history, is to appear to agree with my neighbors and their ilk

If it makes you feel better, I certainly wouldnt think of your neighbors, Bush, the GOP, etc etc if I saw a flag on memorial day. I think you may be selling your audience very, very short.

I'm not saying to reclaim it or any other activism, I'm saying that on memorial day you wont be givign in to the right-wing agenda by putting up a flag.

If you truly feel its hopeless then just put up nothing. Using memorial day to protest your neighbors seems pretty low. There will be real families greiving this year.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


How about the adbusters corporate flag?

But yeah, this is probably a day I'd keep my politics to myself.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2007


Something with a poppy?
posted by transient at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2007


Plus, I think there's something very ballsy and at the same time civil by putting up the flag up on memorial day. You're doing what you want and not letting your neighbor's antics drive you to the point of, say, putting up a smiling tim leary flag in protest, thus making you look like a supreme ass.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Two flags might be something. Something like peace flag + stars and stripes?
posted by pica at 12:51 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you wish to honor specifically the troops serving in Iraq?

How about making a flag based on the Iraq Service Ribbon? I have seen other flags for Vietnam with the service ribbon theme.
posted by MtDewd at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2007


Something with a poppy?

Everyone will think you're part of the commonwealth.
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on May 17, 2007


If you want to honor veterans by a public gesture, you should fly a flag they and passers-by will perceive as honoring them. Hard to think of an alternative to the actual U.S. flag that will fit that bill.

Seconded. It's going to be tricky to fly an alternative flag without seeming precious or self-congratulatory. And heaven help you if you fly the flag upside-down.

I like the Gadsden flag suggestion. It's American, patriotic, rebellious, and respectful. The 13-star Betty Ross flag runs a close second.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:56 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your state flag?
posted by inigo2 at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2007


I think old glory + peace flag is a good message.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2007


These rainbow pace/peace flags are very popular in Europe, but your neighbors would probably just think you were gay.

Why not fly the American flag next to a sign or banner that says something like "Support our troops: bring them home?"
posted by designbot at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always liked the Gadsden flag, because it is supremely cool-looking. It has a DAMN SNAKE ON IT, YO. And it's based on a newspaper cartoon by Ben Franklin.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:14 PM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


flying flags is silly.

"supporting" the troops is silly because it doesn't mean anything. it's just a catch-phrase that liberals feel forced to say so they don't come off as some kind of mythical Vietnam-vet-spitting-on evil hippie.

if you want to help our troops, send them something or help bring them home. Saying "I support them" or putting a piece of cloth on a pole is meaningless.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:14 PM on May 17, 2007


if you want to help our troops, send them something or help bring them home. Saying "I support them" or putting a piece of cloth on a pole is meaningless.

Best case scenario: do both. "What did that snake flag guy do on Memorial Day? Oh, he sent care packages to the troops. Hunh."
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:17 PM on May 17, 2007


We usually fly a colonial-y flag on the 4th of July. It also has slightly darker colors (almost maroon and navy blue) than usual, which I think is nice and historic looking. That said, don't be ashamed to fly the stars and stripes. Warts and all, America is a great country and sets a fabulous ideal. I'm ashamed of my government and some of my countrymen, I'm proud of my country.

The Gadsden flag is pretty kickass, but it kind of has a Ruby Ridge/militia connotation for me.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:18 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


drjimmy11: It's a bit late to help bring home the troops that you pay tribute to on Memorial Day. It's certainly possible to both honor the war dead and separately have opinions about the current war.

(Also, I believe the flags "honoring" veterans linked way up top there are flags to be flown by veterans.)
posted by mendel at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


How about a US flag AND a United Nations flag? You won't be mistaken for a right-winger if you're supporting the UN. Plus it's kind of beautiful.
posted by GaelFC at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2007


You'll find a good source of information on various US flags (and vexillology in general) here:

http://www.fotw.net/flags/us.html

The problem with flying a military branch flag is that viewers will assume that a family member is serving in that branch.

The Betsy Ross is a good traditional alternative to the US Flag.

The Fort McHenry (aka "The Star Spangled Banner") is another historical choice. Very similar to today's but with 15 stars and stripes.

The Moultrie Flag I would expect to be a sign of southern pride.

The Huntington Flag is striking, and uses the same reference to "Liberty" as the Moultrie.

Both are pretty obscure, and are likely to puzzle neighbors and passers-by.
posted by justkevin at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2007


I gnashed my teeth during the Iraq runup, think little of our current POTUS, and the state of Habeus makes me want to cry and/or throw things.

And I still would raise an eyebrow at anything other than the POW-MIA or Old Glory being flown on Memorial Day. I get irked at poor flag handling. I had to resist the urge to go knock on the door of a local professional organization when they flew the US flag at half-mast while still flying the Canadian flag at full height and only refrained because it would have made me late for work.

I understand your discomfort with sending people you disagree with a message that they may take as your tacit agreement with their views. I just want you to understand that many people who share yours may not take your alternative message in the tone with which you mean it.
posted by phearlez at 1:24 PM on May 17, 2007


I say peace flag and POW/MIA flag. Tell your neighbors that you are supporting the troops in a "duality of man" sort of way.
posted by Big_B at 1:35 PM on May 17, 2007


Are you saying that a yellow ribbon is even worse, because it's been co-opted in the same way that the flag has? I've always understood that the yellow ribbon was the equivalent of "bring them home".

Yep. Nope. It means SUPPORT OUR TROOPS = anything bad you say about the war means that you don't support our troops, you heartless motherfucker. To some people, anyway.
posted by desuetude at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fly the US flag, or nothing at all. Trying to one up your neighbors on Memorial Day makes you just as bad as them, IMHO. Personally, I find it rather humorous that they will think you are one of them.
posted by COD at 1:44 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fly the flag at half mast, that was the first thing I thought of. I think anyone with a half a brain will understand what you're saying.

Barring that, pass out copies of your political thesis, with footnotes, to your neighbors.
posted by bradbane at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2007


There are a wide variety of flags from the War of Independence that may be fitting. The Continental Flag in particular may be a good memorial due to its use in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Then you can leave it up for a few weeks.
posted by JJ86 at 1:57 PM on May 17, 2007


Any historical baggage the Peace flag has pales in comparison to the baggage of the U.S. flag (and an echo on NOT flying the POW-MIA flag.) But the best task isn't proper flag selection, but working to end the war.
posted by history is a weapon at 1:59 PM on May 17, 2007


I wasn't sure if I should respond to this question. Or even how. I mean no disrespect or snarkiness, but here goes...

Fly what you want. It seems you want to make a statement, but don't want to be thrown in with what is traditional (some might say "proper").

That being said, if you want to fly the flag, put aside any aversion, and do it correctly. I think making it about "supporting the troops" should be secondary. If you want another flag to make that statement, fine, but do it right (see also).

And a small correction: Flying the flag upside-down is not a sign of protest, but rather indicates emergency or distress (not limited to boats).

This message brought to you by a former Boy Scout.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2007


I support those suggesting the Gadsden flag, which I fly at home. At my parent's vacation spot in NH, I rock the Culpepper flag, which has both "Don't Tread On Me" and "Liberty Or Death." I prefer those flags because they hearken back to the founding of our country, and thus carry slightly less "baggage" (although the tone is certainly aggressive and would probably be misinterpreted by the pro-war crowd).

Your best bet might be the old-school, 13 stars style. If you really want to go crazy, you could look for the Grand Union Flag. That's as old school as they come, and it just might confuse the hell out of everyone!
posted by Banky_Edwards at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2007


No flag. Call a local senior citizens' home, and ask if any WWII vets are in their care. Go to the home on Memorial Day, visit with them, play checkers, and ask them stories about their lives. If they talk about The War, fine. If not, fine. Be with them. Your service in doing that for them will pale in comparison to the service they've done for you, but it's something. And the real vets you'll be learning from will appreciate it more than they would a flag outside your house.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:11 PM on May 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I second the corporate flag. While being flown, it's tough to tell the difference, but you'll get the pleasure of knowing. My parents have flown it in their very righty neighborhood for years, and no one has noticed, except those who walked right past it (it hangs at eye level from the front of their house). It's a great conversation starter, and has actually resulted in a few conversions.
posted by nevercalm at 2:21 PM on May 17, 2007


I also agree with flying the stars & stripes just for that day. Memorial day's not about showing up your neighbors or worrying about if you'll be seen in the same limelight as them. In your case, it's about showing support for your troops and frankly, nothing shows that more than showing your support for America with the symbolism of the flag being at the top.
posted by jmd82 at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2007


There's the New Hampshire flag.
posted by goethean at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2007


Peace flags.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:40 PM on May 17, 2007


Something with a poppy?

Everyone will think you're part of the commonwealth.


Of course, there are British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops being shot (and blown) up alongside US troops in Iraq and/or Afghanistan - maybe a Poppy wouldn't be entirely inappropriate?
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 2:56 PM on May 17, 2007


I actually disagree with the OP's position, because I think the US Flag belongs to all US citizens, not just those who seek to appropriate it for political purposes.

Having said that, you could fly an Earth Flag.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:59 PM on May 17, 2007


Fly the goddamn American flag if you want to fly a flag. It's about time you took it back. If your right wing neighbors are anything like mine, you are a hell of a lot more patriotic than them, you have a lot more empathy and gratitude for the troops than them, and you deserve to display the flag more than them. Hell, for most Americans on Memorial Day, the flag is just another NASCAR symbol.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:08 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Any number of awesome historic flags here. If you get flack from your neighbors tell them that you, and George Washington, disagree.

I'm kinda with ObscureReferenceMan on the do it right part. It's not like it's calculus or anything.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:16 PM on May 17, 2007


See also: Cal Thomas vs Bob Becker on "When patriotism — or the lack of it — is used as a political weapon"

I found this because I was trying to remember whether it was the 1984 or 1988 Democratic Convention which was positively dripping with American flags.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2007


Huh, link is screwed up. Let's try that again.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2007


Again, thanks for all the great answers. I suppose I should clarify that this is not about sticking it to my neighbors -- it's about meaning what I say. I feel that flying the Stars and Stripes will imply something I don't mean (things being as they are), which is why I'm looking for an alternative. But some of you who suggest I stick with Old Glory are pretty convincing.

It's depressing that so many folks marked fake's ignorant screed as a favorite. This is AskMe, kids. You don't know me, and I don't know you, so please don't make value judgments or ascribe motives to me. I didn't ask what kind of food I should send to the troops: I asked a question about flags, and I'm looking for answers. That's all.
posted by turducken at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2007


Flying the American Flag 2 (and only 2) days out of the year, by which I mean Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, would pretty much get your message across, I would think. Your neighbors might even get it, if you do that every year.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:32 PM on May 17, 2007


desuetude: "Are you saying that a yellow ribbon is even worse, because it's been co-opted in the same way that the flag has? I've always understood that the yellow ribbon was the equivalent of "bring them home".

Yep. Nope. It means SUPPORT OUR TROOPS = anything bad you say about the war means that you don't support our troops, you heartless motherfucker. To some people, anyway.
"

That's how I read it too, as a Canadian.

I would go with the UN flag.

I don't get why people are telling you to go volunteer and stuff. This has nothing to do with that. It's about flags.
posted by loiseau at 4:03 PM on May 17, 2007


Nice Guy Mike: "Something with a poppy?

Everyone will think you're part of the commonwealth.


Of course, there are British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops being shot (and blown) up alongside US troops in Iraq and/or Afghanistan - maybe a Poppy wouldn't be entirely inappropriate?
"

We (Canadians) are not in Iraq. Just FYI.
posted by loiseau at 4:04 PM on May 17, 2007


You should fly no flag.

Only the American flag shows support for all the veterans of every war.

How we have come to this point of making Memorial Day a day of politics as usual us a damned shame. For one day in the year surely you can show just a tad of patriotism and respect to our veterans.
posted by JayRwv at 4:24 PM on May 17, 2007


If someone thinks that flying the flag on Memorial Day makes you a right wing Republican, I say that's their problem, not yours.

From these responses I think it's clear that anything other than the Stars and Stripes will either be misinterpreted or entirely lost on your audience.
posted by mr frosted at 4:34 PM on May 17, 2007


I am a person of political beliefs similar to yours, and I will be flying the American flag off my porch on Memorial Day. I hope that you join me, and that all like-minded folks do as well. We have every right to show our patriotic spirit, and our political beliefs are not un-American.
posted by popechunk at 5:05 PM on May 17, 2007


You can fly the American flag and make a point with your neighbors by treating it with the utmost respect. Part of my personal beef with the overabundant display of flags and flag like things recently, is the complete lack of ceremony and respect. People are flying flags at night unlit, failing to salute the flag when raised, and generally treating it like a freaking handbill advertising a garage sale. You can use memorial day and veteran's day to out patriot the patriots by treating the flag raising like the ceremony it should be. Crank up the trumpet music at sunrise, that'll show 'em.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:30 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's depressing that so many folks marked fake's ignorant screed as a favorite.

It was hardly an "ignorant screed". I suggested two flags for you to fly, as well as an alternative course of action.

In addition, I pointed out how it is ridiculous to make a public display, when you are criticizing your neighbors for making a public display.

It hardly matters, now that the comment has been deleted.
posted by fake at 6:20 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


For those suggesting that the flag be flown half-staff, it's worth knowing that on Memorial Day it's appropriate to fly the Stars and Stripes at half-staff until noon.

That's because it's about remembering the dead who fell in service of their country. The people whom the day is intended to honor will never see your display, turducken. But many of them died so that you would have the freedom to put up a flag any damn way you wanted to.

I would support the Ft. Moultrie flag, or any of the "Don't Tread On Me" flags, or the POW-MIA flag. I would not fly the US flag upside down - that seems disrespectful to the memories of those who have died.

But frankly, I don't think America - the America that lives on in my patriotic heart - is quite dead yet. I don't even believe it's down for the count. I would fly the Stars and Stripes without any reservations. Long may it wave.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:36 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


i know you don't want to "reclaim" the flag from the wingnuts, but gosh. they are the ones abusing it, not you.

besides, the people you want to honor died for that flag. it seems a little insulting to them to resist flying it because there's a chance that someone driving by just might assume you're a wingnut like your neighbor. (and then what would they do with that thought? knock on your door and give you a chance to explain yourself? or tell all their friends? or tell your friends? i'm not sure what you are afraid of.)

a lot of patriots hate this war (myself included). the flag does not stand for this war, or even this administration. i say fly it with pride. it stands for you, too.

of course, you could always just fly a copy of the bill of rights. ;)
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:15 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


If anything, I would fly the UN flag and the American flag together (with the UN flag underneath the American one).

I think it's in bad taste though, on Memorial Day.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:56 PM on May 17, 2007


they are the ones abusing it, not you.

How? It is not inappropriate to fly the flag every holiday. Nor even every day.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:05 PM on May 17, 2007


Only the Stars and Stripes will communicate what you want to communicate - honor and respect for those who gave their lives to further the stated goals of this nation, in all their variety.

Anything else you might choose is more about you than about them.

Who is this day for? Who are you recognizing? Your neighbors? Yourself? Or people who died because they believed it was their duty?

If it's the last on that list, fly the flag they saluted.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I know you said you disagreed with it up front, but I just can't argue with those who say to fly any other flag than Old Glory is simply turning this moment into a political one. Any other day of the year, you can fly what you want, but this day fly the flag they fought for.

Yes, it sucks that some of your right-wing nutbar neighbors get to make their political statements. We've got a guy with a big sign in his front yard here: SUPPORT THE TROOPS -- GOD BLESS GEORGE BUSH, and he'll be draped in bunting and whatnot on Memorial Day. That's life.

I guarantee that flying the UN flag -- unless you live in Berkeley -- will be viewed with suspicion. Even the people who don't believe in black helicopters have their doubts about "world government" and whatever your intended message -- probably something closer to "world peace" -- that's how they will interpret it.

Perhaps an historical US flag of some type is indeed what you want. It will be a US flag, it will not appear political even if you intend a subtle point, and it will not unintentionally offend.
posted by dhartung at 9:17 PM on May 17, 2007


obscurereferenceman: yeah, you're right. "abusing" wasn't the right word. in a vacuum, flying the flag is always great. i just feel turducken's pain that it seems to have been co-opted as a symbol of the present administration's particular agenda--that's it somehow has come to exclude parts of the country it once represented, at least in current popular usage. given what we know of turducken's neighbors, it seems apparent that this is how they interpret the flag. and i find that grossly disrespectful of the wider meaning of the flag.

hence my inclination to "reclaim" the flag and dilute the politicization, which turducken gets but feels disinclined to do, for reasons i must respect but admit i don't understand.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2007


I know you said you disagreed with it up front, but I just can't argue with those who say to fly any other flag than Old Glory is simply turning this moment into a political one

If Dan Hartung, the most thoughtful, honest, and articulate liberal who I have ever met (on the internet) says such a thing, you should at the very least think long and hard about it. Seriously.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:16 AM on May 18, 2007


it seems to have been co-opted as a symbol of the present administration's particular agenda

To clarify, I understand the problem, but I agree with dhartung and with thinkingwoman. The only way to remove the weighted political power from the official US flag is for people of all political leanings to use it as a symbol. Liberals can't both complain that the flag symbolizes right-wing thought and then refuse to fly it - if only liberals are not flying it, then by default it becomes associated with the right-wingers and moderates who have no compunction about recognizing that it is, indeed, our nation's flag. Left-wingers refusing to fly it is the only thing giving right-wingers the power to claim it.

The only way to take away the power of the non-patriotic (political) statement right-wingers might be making with it is to use the same symbol but associate it with a greater range of statements, or assert that it really is a symbol of national identity regardless of its use and misuse in the political climate. If it's good enough for Veterans for Peace...

Nevertheless, Memorial Day is not the best time to call attention to your personal political views. I don't believe in squelching controversy, but if there is one day you're going to honor with the flag and take yourself out of the picture, this is the one. If you find you can't fly the flag because you're concerned with your political identity or you're just not in support of the concept of Memorial Day, better to fly nothing than to create an inflammatory statement. I am an avowed Liberal and I own and fly an American flag on holidays and sport them festively at parades and the like. It's my flag too, dammit. If I don't like what's done under its name, it's my job to do something about those actions, not change my flag.

As the child of a Vietnam veteran, I always like to see Old Glory flown with the POW/MIA flag. It is an excellent reminder of the costs of war. I don't own my own yet though. Perhaps it would be a good solution for you to fly both, as others suggested.

Historical flags are awesome. However, they make statements too. Where I live, people who fly them are saying things as various as "I'm a Libertarian," "Things Were Better Back Then," "This Is The Year My House Was Built," "I'm a Historical Reenactor," or even just "I'm Different! Look at Me!" So while they may feel more patriotic or neutral, they also have varied associations worth considering. They are fantastic flags and I love flying my snake one, but on Memorial Day I don't think it's the show of respect called for. Memorial Day is pretty simple for me. People found themselves in our nation's military for a variety of reasons - some volunteered, some were drafted, some were conscripted. They took on this role of service and sacrifice regardless of who they were and what they believed. A lot of them died. This day is for grieving their loss and thanking them for being willing to do something unimaginably scary and difficult that most of their peers weren't doing - regardless of whether history judges their ultimate cause as just. In the vast majority of cases, they weren't the decision makers.
posted by Miko at 5:29 AM on May 18, 2007


You can fly the American flag and make a point with your neighbors by treating it with the utmost respect. Part of my personal beef with the overabundant display of flags and flag like things recently, is the complete lack of ceremony and respect.

Ohhh, this drives me nuts, too. I can't even envision what the proper penalty should be for those loons who are proud!! that the flags in front of their houses (or, ugh, cars) are tattered or torn or faded.
posted by desuetude at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2007


My dad was a Marine on Okinawa in WW II. My brother was in the Vietnam war, my nephew in Iraq for more than a year. All are hardcore liberal Democrats to this day.

I share your frustration at not wanting people to think the flag means something it's been co-opted to mean, but I think about how my family all wore it on their uniforms and they sure as heck don't represent what it's been co-opted to be. So go ahead and fly it for them, if you want. To me the flag represents them much more than it represents Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, none of whom ever saw combat.
posted by GaelFC at 4:49 PM on May 18, 2007


GaelFC, I thought wearing a representation of the flag on military uniforms started around the Vietnam war or shortly thereafter?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:58 PM on May 18, 2007


It's not troops specific, but the Constitution Flag is pretty awesome.
posted by Skwirl at 2:24 PM on May 28, 2007


Turducken, what did you end up doing?
posted by phearlez at 2:28 PM on May 31, 2007


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