Why do so many Americans NOT fly the flag?
By Greg Markley
Today, students from grammar school to university are learning about Sept. 11, 2001. Adults are sharing memories: “Where were you when you first heard the news?”
September 11 is a Patriot Day as it means lives lost, buildings destroyed and world affairs upended. Government buildings must and private citizens should fly flags at half -staff. How many citizens actually do so, and why not? Why do only a few homes show Old Glory?
New yard signs popped up in Auburn and Opelika in early 2017. A few had appeared after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Those protested Trump’s ugly, intolerant statements as a candidate. The majority appeared after the Trump administration issued its controversial immigration orders in January 2017.
“Hate has no place here” said the signs, in several languages. That is a sentiment I share and one that most people would agree with. Yet, why were these anti-bigotry people not even flying the American flag on poles at their homes? And why will we see only a few more flags flying today, the 18 th anniversary of the deadliest attack on U.S. citizens at home, ever?
Why is flying the U.S. flag not fashionable among the circles some people travel in? How can they fly flags for sports teams but forget to show love for their country? Do people feel they are being “independent” by not showing the Stars and Stripes? Or do they feel vandals will cross over their fences and yards with electronic alarms and steal their flags? All these may be true.
After 9/11, a colleague of mine from San Juan noticed that a coworker suddenly had all kinds of pro-America stickers on his car. He said, yes, why not? She had been flying a small Puerto Rico flag for years on her car. But “Yes, I have,” she said. “But it didn’t take a tragedy like 9/11 for me to show my patriotism.” Click: A win for the Puerto Rican.
In the countries I lived in in Europe and Central America, flying a flag seemed much more common outside businesses than private homes. Yet the amount of homes showing their national flag was not insignificant. It is clear citizens of other nations fly their flag not because they love their government; instead, it is because they love their country, despite its currently unpopular leaders. Our own 19th century American humorist said “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government when it deserves it.”
In the United States, we have an oddity: people who fly our flag for commercial or corrupt reasons. A car dealer in the 1980s near Fort Hood flew perhaps the largest flag in Texas.
That’s an achievement in Texas, a very patriotic state. Unfortunately, the post legal office’s removed this merchant its list of approved local merchants. Why? For consistently unfair and predatory treatment of soldiers and their family members.
As for corruption, it is amazing that often when a home of a convicted white-collar felon is shown on TV, a large flag is present. They proudly show the U.S. flag, yet harm society.
Another corrupt way flags are flown is by white nationalists and racists. The First Amendment gives them, as well, the right to fly the U.S. flag. But exactly what kind of country do they dream of? That sham of a country is dead for the most part, and unlamented by most of us.
So, 18 years on, people remember that dark day when Americans overcame political differences. On the doomed United Flight 93, Todd Beamer and others tried to wrest back the plane from the terrorists. Beamer’s last words were: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”
In 2019, the U.S. flag is seen on government buildings but not as much on private homes. “Hate has no place here in America,” is true but at your home, doesn’t the American flag deserve a place?
Greg Markley is a longtime Lee County journalist. He has masters degrees in education and history and has served as an adjunct instructor at Fort Benning and in Montgomery.