It is July 4th which is Independence Day in the United States of America even though our armies didn’t officially win independence until September. It’s harder to have barbecues in September though or at least it was back when I was in school. Anyway, we won our independence and fought hard to defend it. I just realize I keep writing “we” as if I was there or had some direct connection to the events. I don’t but that’s the way being a citizen of a country makes you feel. You take pride in success and feel embarrassment for failure.
I thought I would take the time on today of all days to revisit a post I made back in April about the overrun of American flags in our country. I love our country’s flag. I love the freedom it represents and the power to (hopefully) do the right thing. I just get upset when people use their patriotism as a status symbol.
There was a flag that was draped over my Great Uncle’s coffin. It was given to us because as kids we often went down to Georgia to visit him and his brother who both served in World War II. This flag actually means something. In fact, it means a lot of things to a lot of people. So when I complain about American flags everywhere I am not talking about this sort of thing. I come from the city that birthed our National Anthem which is a loving tribute to our country’s flag. It was written during a time when our country was fighting to keep its independence.
To summarize: I should probably not be so uptight about it. Happy 4th of July!
I have two other flag issues to talk about, both of which probably date this post.
The Gay Pride Flag
The Supreme Court has finally made a decision that allows same sex marriage throughout the country. This is a great victory and, in my opinion, joins a long list of civil rights victories that should have happened long before they actually happened. There is still a lot of work to do on the civil rights front and the equal rights front and there will always be people who stand in front of progress.
One of those people came up to me yesterday and claimed that 10,000 people signed a petition to replace our country’s flag with the gay pride flag. Really? People are actually still falling for these fake news stories? Awesome. A lot of us are really excited about the Supreme Court victory but we’re not about to go overboard. Statistically the homophobic and intolerant philosophies that cause people to buy into something like this are disappearing.
Another news story that will date this post is that all over the southeastern part of the USA, governments are taking down confederate flags. A (hopefully) minor part of the population is reacting to this with anger. This completely and utterly bewilders me.
The confederate flag is part of a dark period in history called the American Civil War. It represents a country that briefly existed due to differences in policy from the United States government. We could argue for hours over what those differences were but the rebellion failed and the US went through a rough period of reconstruction that led to both halves reforming into one country. Therefore, the nation it represents hasn’t existed for over one hundred years.
My mother’s side of the family is from South Carolina and, to our great embarassment, a confederate flag hung at the capital building for a long time. Whatever the flag originally represented, at some point it began to represent racism. This is the interpretation that I grew up with due to my mom’s experiences growing up in the south and the flag’s association with slavery and later the KKK. A distant family member recently told me that they believe that the confederate flag should be left alone because it symbolizes heritage and history. However, this person has also used the N word unironically and in anger so it is hard for me to take this argument seriously.
So why cling to a national flag of a long dead country? A country in a region that statistically did not believe in equal rights and fought any progress in that area. It’s really hard for me to believe that the reason isn’t racism. I don’t see the confederate flag as a positive symbol at all. I agree that it should not be flown on government land as it has nothing to do with who we are today. At least, it has nothing to do with who I want to be.