I’m not really a flag-waver. Oh, I once was, believe me. I used to sew American Flag patches on my jackets, I had a sign that read “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” hanging over my desk, my biggest dream was to join what was then called the Navy underwater demolition team (UDT); it has since evolved into a unit known as the SEALs. Once, after being on assignment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a period of seven months, I had to fly to the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast to visit the Brazilian embassy. On the way, I passed the American embassy which had our flag waving from the rooftop; it brought tears to my eyes.
As I got older, and hopefully a little wiser, I began to see signs of mold eating away at my country from the inside. I saw it in the way we were conducting foreign policy. I witnessed how my fellow countrymen acted while overseas, and it was often followed by a sense of embarrassment, especially since I was also witness to how people from other countries, notably European nations, behaved. My flag-waving desire began to wane. Quickly.
It hasn’t really gotten any better as the situation, especially our internal divide, gets worse. Having said that, I wrote a post about ISIS the other day. It naturally garnered some invective toward the United States. I found myself growing irritated over their comments, but answered each comment in defense of our nation. I think it has something to do with: it’s my country so I can make fun of it if I want to, but you can’t.
The irony of that is the myriad problems we face within our country makes me even angrier than it did before. Why? Because we need to be the best damned country on the planet, that’s why. We need to be the guys who wear the white hats like the old cowboy movies.
Is this a resurgence of my latent patriotism? Did it take the insults from people in other countries to stir my pot? Maybe, just maybe…
As one who pledges allegiance to the flag each and every day I’m at work, I have to say that I really never took the words of the Pledge that literally. I pledge to be respectful and observant to my country (whose symbol happens to be the stars and stripes hanging in my classroom). I don’t care for those who use their 1st Amendment right to burn our flag in an act of “self expression”. I’m not sure why I hate those who trample it, burn it or mishandle it. I never thought that deeply into my visceral reaction to want to punch their lights out.
I fly that flag outside my home for many reasons, not the least of which I feel fortunate (luck of the draw?) to have been born in THIS country. It does fill me with a sense of pride overall at being an American. Are there many things wrong with our nation, our politics/politicians and our citizens? Yes! I can’t, however, paint with the broadest of brushes to say that the Pledge isn’t valuable. The flag and my pledge to it are priceless to me.
I DO take umbrage at the Pledge including “under god”… but THAT’S an entirely different rant. Thanks Gary! This was a good piece.
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Thanks for writing back…well said.
The focus on enforced flag-waving has really been getting on my nerves lately. I don’t mind if other people want to display flags, but it bothers me how they will attack someone for not loving their country if they don’t follow all the ceremonial flag rigamarole. They’ll cry that Obama hates America if he doesn’t put his hand on his heart during the pledge, all the right-wing politicians are sure to have a flag lapel pin on at all times, our national anthem is about the flag, and, what bothers me most, they put in laws that the schools have to start every day with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Not to the country or to the constitution, to the flag. Kids sometimes even get in trouble if they try to exercise their right to opt out. This stuff isn’t love of country anymore, it’s become flag-worship, and I want no part in it. We aren’t going to solve any problems by waving flags at them harder. People from other countries are often baffled by this behavior, because it doesn’t happen in their country.
I show my love of country by paying my taxes without whining about it, volunteering with family support when my spouse was in the military, by voting in every single election, by working political campaigns, and by contacting my elected officials to let them know how I feel about important issues. I might fly a flag if I am feeling especially proud of something the country has done (not so much lately), but if it’s expected and enforced all the time it becomes meaningless.
My current version of the pledge goes like this: “I pledge allegiance……….to liberty and justice for all.” That’s it.
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Thank you, that’s very well said. I remember the Vietnam days when the group known as the “hard hats” would espouse the notion of “love it or leave it”. I thought even then that that was a bit shallow, that there was more to it than that. and I was only in my early teens at that point.
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Good post. I pretty much agree.
Good to hear… 🙂