A Patriot

A few days ago, I saw a tattered American flag getting run over in the road. If it hadn’t been rush hour, I would have stepped into the the street to save it. But as it was, cars were whizzing by with no sign of stopping.

So instead of doing anything, I just walked on by. I felt badly about that.

It was a small flag. Probably came off somebody’s car as they flaunted their patriotism to the world. I wonder how they felt when it touched the ground.

Then today I saw this:

Yes. That is a cement truck painted in red, white and blue.
This annoys me.
I respect people’s right to not respect the flag. It is a matter of free speech, and I’m totally down with that.
But here’s what drives me crazy: when people disrespect the flag while wrapping themselves in patriotism.
There is a U.S. Flag Code and corresponding standards of respect. For example:

  • The flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins).
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions.
  • When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.

So when I see cars go by, tattered flags taped to their antenna, it makes me wonder what the driver is trying to say.

The message I get is that they think they’re a big ol’ patriot who’s proud to be an American. The message I get is that they think I’m unpatriotic for not wearing my star-spangled jacket while jaunting down the street.

But when I see the flag in tatters, when I see it not taken in or illuminated at night, when I see the flag re-purposed for clothing and napkins…I see disrespect.

I am a patriot. That’s not a word commonly associated with liberals these days, but it’s true.

I am a patriot, and I show my respect for the flag by not displaying it. By not letting it become tattered, dirty, or darkened in my care.

I am a patriot. And no amount of flags flaunted by others will change that.

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