Flag Day everyone
June 13, 2002 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Flag Day everyone
As if we Americans didn't have enough reason to show off our patriotism, today (6.14) is Flag Day.
posted by shackbar (27 comments total)
I'm fascinated with the early flags of the revolution. Here's a couple other pages about America's early flags and their evolution into today's Stars and Stripes. Creating a system of symbols for the new and diverse United States probably wasn't exactly an easy process.
posted by evanizer at 11:15 PM on June 13, 2002

evanizer, you're a week or two too early, we're talking about FLAG DAY here.

Before you freak out at me, remember I am much more stiflingly, humorlessly liberal than you evanizer.
posted by crasspastor at 11:31 PM on June 13, 2002

posted by crasspastor at 11:32 PM on June 13, 2002

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary if the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

For some reason, I like this strange quote.
posted by vacapinta at 11:45 PM on June 13, 2002

Great ! I have a little low slung black number that goes well with these kitten heel shoes I bought last week at...

Oh FLAG Day......
posted by Frasermoo at 3:13 AM on June 14, 2002

I always think of a rocking country song by a band called The Starkweathers, which was from Kansas City (broken up, alas, though some of the spirit is carried on by Mike Ireland and Holler). The song "Burn the Flag" was released around the time Bush Sr. was pushing the anti-flag-burning amendment.

Burn the flag!
Rip it up!
Don't let 'em ram it down your throat if you don't want.
Well, speak your mind.
Stand right up!
Burn the flag!
Burn it up!

Sure enough a lot of people died
To keep this country free.
That redneck blood is running through my veins.
Yeah, I'm proud of who I am
But I won't join no big parade
When they wave that thing to cover up their shame.


Well, I ain't just a-talkin' bout the ole red, white and blue,
If you look around you will surely find
It could be the Stars-and-Bars, Union Jack, Rising Sun,
It's any flag waved to keep you hypnotized.

Come on boy let's burn now!

Well, don't let 'em beat you down my friend
Because we disagree
What a way to make a shamble of our lives
If you don't love the changes
It don't have to be this way
Use guns and votes and wait and smile and see.

posted by Mo Nickels at 4:49 AM on June 14, 2002

Vacapinta, your quote rings true to me!!

I often have mixed feelings about Americans' patriotic focus that begins and ends with our flag. I have stated before that I appreciate living here and for the sacrifices that many have made for me. But I'm concerned that the flag has become more important than the deeds it represents.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:34 AM on June 14, 2002

If I don't get a day off of work for it, I don't recognize it.
posted by adampsyche at 6:13 AM on June 14, 2002

You are so right Taken Outtacontext. The flag is cheapened every time it is used to hide unsavory attitudes and behaviors. After all, the flag only has meaning in so far as it represents IDEAS, not as the piece of cloth it is.

And another thing, I'm getting damned sick of these magnetic flag stickers on every other SUV I see on the road. Talk about cheapening the significance of the flag!

I for one do not want to see the stars and stripes begin to stand for a heritage of hatred the way the stars and bars currently do.

Then there's all the good "businessmen" trying to gain advantage in exploiting some poor sucker's "patriotism" by advertising if front of a waving flag or trying to buy the BIGGEST possible flag to fly in front of their sales place.

Sorry for the rambling but I have to hurry and go out to put up old glory. :)
posted by nofundy at 6:42 AM on June 14, 2002

One of my favorite flags is the Louisiana State Flag. On it is a mother pelican tearing off her feathers so that her blood may feed her young. Creepy...and it says a lot about the state itself. In both the good and bad ways.
posted by ColdChef at 6:42 AM on June 14, 2002

The only thing different is that I can wear jeans to school today.
posted by sahrens428 at 7:28 AM on June 14, 2002

I've been wanting a Gadsden flag for a while, probably pick one up soon:


Also on the wish list is a copy of the Come and Take It flag from the Texas revolution:

posted by jammer at 7:33 AM on June 14, 2002

Don't forget, if you happen to be flying a flag today, there are certain customs associated with it.
(I read this and I took the flag patch off my backpack. Better to not show it at all than to show it improperly.)
posted by darukaru at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2002

Creepy...and it says a lot about the state itself. In both the good and bad ways.

Certainly, LA politicians have a long history of feathering their own nests (see: Eddie Edwards).
posted by rushmc at 8:16 AM on June 14, 2002

On the way to work today I passed a car painted to look like the flag. The entire front end to the windshield was painted blue with stars. The rest of the car was fat red and white stripes. Even the hubcaps were painted. As I got closer, I realized he hadn't made a representation of just a flag, but rather one of the famous battle-field flags you see in museums: the back end of his car was punctured with several dozen bullet holes.
posted by ewagoner at 8:30 AM on June 14, 2002

shackbar, you probably should have waited until past midnight PST to post!

My must-see find is Smithsonian's July 1942 magazine flag covers exhibition. A national campaign succeeded in getting publishers across the country to put unique flag designs on their magazine covers, all in the same month, with the timeless motto United We Stand. Many gorgeous designs here; my fave is the unexpectedly modern Harper's Bazaar, and as I blogged, can you imagine today's ultraliberal Harper's getting into the act? In 1942, they did. Fashion, children, fiction, industry, the topic was seemingly irrelevant as anybody could participate.

darukaru: I have a much more practical approach to the flag code, which I think is stuffy and outdated. I wish some committee somewhere would update it so we could get some actual rules for automobile window stickers, 24/7 gas station flags, and yes, backpack patches, rather than blanket restrictions. The spirit here is more important to me than the letter: simply treat the flag with respect, however you display it. Backpack patch OK; knee patch NO. And it's Flag Day, not Memorial Day; we're not required to be downbeat. In fact I think today is more of a brass-band day.
posted by dhartung at 8:33 AM on June 14, 2002

Politics aside, I have to say that whenever I return from abrad and pass through customs and see the U.S. flag, it's very comorting and makes me very grateful for my home. It's not a boastful kind of pride, but it is pride.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2002

um, I mean abroad. Although I do enjoy visiting abrad from time to time.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:59 AM on June 14, 2002

Perhaps my calendar is wrong; I thought today was Flag Day. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm glad you're flying the flag regardless, nofundy. But you and TOC (and maybe a teensy bit Grant & Ty as well) seem to be celebrating Passive Aggressive Flag Day. Surely that's a different date?

I get this image of a comic book superhero struggling to get the thought bubbles out: Feeling ... weak ... must not ... succumb ... Kryptonite ... pride ... or is it patriotism ...? Ahhhh!" Then a dark shadow falls on his collapsed body. It is Captain Jingo! Ghostly words form: Mine ... you always will be ... in the end....BWA HA HA HA HAAAA!
posted by dhartung at 9:39 AM on June 14, 2002

Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear enough. There's nothing passive aggressive about my patriotism, though I'm careful not to allow it to decay into the distasteful, self-serving, and self-indulgent triumphalism that is so much in evidence these days. Here's a more detailed description of my feelings on the flag.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:02 AM on June 14, 2002

Thanks for your contribution. I also feel you may have misinterpreted what I said. Either that or I have not explained myself very well (more than just possible.) I have a great respect for the ideals the flag represents. I detest those who would cheapen the symbol of those ideals. I more than detest jingoism. Great respect and keep it within sensible limits. Never use the flag for self serving purposes. Is that clearer? Ty Webb did a great job explaining this too. Thanks Ty Webb.
posted by nofundy at 10:18 AM on June 14, 2002

Quite fitting for today: The Smithsonian's Star-Spangled Banner page.

As we've all been taught in school, a country's flag constitutes one of its most precious patriotic identity symbols and as such deserves - at least theorically- its due respect and treatment. Being America the mother of all capitalistic societies, it is almost inevitable to think that its flag would eventually be subject to the commercial vices of capitalism, specially in the hands of those who mistake jingoism for patriotism, who have been sprouting in droves after 9/11. Maybe it's time to think hard about these issues....
posted by betobeto at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2002

Ty, I'm pleased you're not among those on the left who reject the flag; I broke with them long ago. I wish your article had spent more time on the positive relationship you have with the flag; I feel you spent more time, and expressed sharper emotions, attacking blips on the radar screen. Certainly it's not clear that either of the persons you cited was deliberately mis-using flag imagery; indeed, most of the power of the connection between national chauvinism and the flag was drawn by your and Pollitt's words.

It's this "I love the flag, but" that is too evident to me, above. I don't know how much of it is a sense that the American experiment is no longer amenable to progressive politics, concern for how one appears to this group cherishing dissent, or a need to persuade oneself that there is still value in patriotism. It's a conflict of emotions. Certainly I have complex views of America, and of the symbol of the flag; but I don't feel necessary to undercut my own affection, or draw up precisely defined lists of my social contract with the darned thing. You guys just seem so uncomfortable in this skin.

I mean, I'm a Christian, but I don't feel the need to constantly explain that I'm not that kind of Christian. And saying that one condemns "self-serving" abuses of the flag is something like saying one condemns embezzlement. Gee, d'ya think?

Try this. We all know that Woody Guthrie was pretty much a flat out social anarchist. He wrote songs like Deportee, but he also wrote upbeat, grand, expansive songs like This Land is Your Land. Granted, it was composed during the Great Depression; and at least some of the verses added over the years were downbeat. But sanitized, if you will, of negativity (as much by other folkies as anyone else), the song became a favorite, a candidate for alternate anthem, because of its lusty, positive expression of American values. And it doesn't, in any version that I know, attack Guthrie's favorite stalking horses. One later version is wistful and personal. (Scratch that: here are some pretty rebellious alternates, though it's not clear whether they are contributed by the folk tradition or attributable to Guthrie himself.) There's even an, *ahem*, reactionary version. But at heart, even if was flexible for many different situations including protest, Guthrie was finding a way to express his values straightforward, honestly, and without explicit rancor or reservation.

My apologies if I see it this way, but I don't get the sense that the right stole the flag away; I get the sense that the left abandoned it, and even those who have, as you, re-embraced it are doing so while biting your lip. And I think that weakens your case for reclaiming it. And in a very real sense, I feel a rejection of the flag as a unifying symbol, even today, when surely we can take a moment to put that all aside.
posted by dhartung at 5:05 PM on June 14, 2002

Any flag that symbolizes the right for idiots to deface that very same flag is a flag I can be proud of.
posted by owillis at 6:33 PM on June 14, 2002

Franklin K. Lane, Secretary if the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Good quote. This is why I am personally opposed to flag burning, but think it should still be legal. When I see a flag being burned, I see it not as an objection to our government, but as an attack on my home, the place I live. It has great symbolic value to me, because when I see it while in a foreign country, I think first of my family and friends back home. It's a powerful symbol.

(If they burnt in effigy, say, a giant 1040 form, I wouldn't mind at all)
posted by insomnyuk at 7:48 PM on June 14, 2002

dhartung, thanks for the Woody Guthrie reference, you pretty much nailed it.

I don't get the sense that the right stole the flag away; I get the sense that the left abandoned it

I don't think the right stole the flag away either, the idea that they could do so is nonsense. The modern right just has much more of a tendency to wrap its politics in the flag, and the left has too often allowed it to happen.

I even feel bad about having to frame the argument in right v. left, and think, as you do, that the flag should be above that shit.

And saying that one condemns "self-serving" abuses of the flag is something like saying one condemns embezzlement.

I see your reasoning, but I don't think it holds. You don't see that many people going on TV to brag about what a great embezzler they are.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:06 PM on June 15, 2002

Gee, this reminds me that we're quickly coming up on 2pi day... (6.28)
posted by kaibutsu at 5:30 AM on June 17, 2002

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