Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on flags and patriotism

I have a great deal of respect for people who display a flag in front of their homes on holidays. Ever since I was a little girl, I would pay attention to the proudly displayed banners. Perhaps that’s because my parents made a point of visiting our family cemetery on Memorial Day, where I saw even more flags waving in the wind.

I have a great deal of respect for the military men and women who serve our country, and I think American flags and patriotic banners are a great way to honor them. “Support our Troops” banners are very popular. Some people choose the ones that have the yellow ribbons. “Happy Birthday America” banners seem to be perfect for Independence Day celebrations.

When it comes to banners, the only ones I don’t care for are the Confederate ones – for obvious reasons. Personally, I fail to see the connection between Confederate displays and patriotism. However, that’s a discussion for another day.

According to the United States Flag Store, nylon is the most popular fabric for American flags. I can see why. Nylon flags are strong and durable. They hold up well under all weather conditions, and they are less likely to fade.

I loved flags as a child, and I love them now. However, when I was in high school and college, I faced some personal conflicts about the American flag and what it represented. Like many young people of my generation, I was torn up about many of the wars that the U.S. supported. In addition, I was disappointed to see our country's displays of arrogance when it came to our relationships with other countries.

I may not have always liked some of the behaviors I saw in our leaders – or some of the biases perpetuated against certain ethnic groups. Still, the U.S. has come a long way since it first declared its independence. We’ve shown a great capacity to change – and to pull together in times of crisis.

The phrase “we, the people” has taken on a much more significant meaning. I am proud to be an American.

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