Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wrapped in the flag?

Everyone goes through changes during his or her lifetime. Sometimes there is an event that facilitates that change. I am no different. Until recent I would not have considered myself a "flag waver," and I still don't. Recently I have put up the Stars and Stripes on my house. My wife has graciously entertained my desire to fly a flag. So, what is the big deal about flying a flag? I mean we are Americans, right? Well, flying a U.S. flag today labels you to be some right-wing fascist, but I disagree.

As a child I always looked to the flag with reverence and awe. The flag represented a promise of freedom and equality. Also, the flag gave us an identity that instilled pride. Unfortunately, childhood ideals fall hard to adult realities, and the truth about the U.S. of A is at times less than savory and downright atrocious. But besides all of its faults my "country" has the potential to live up to those ideals I was taught as a child.

After 9/11 people across the nation became wrapped in the flag for many reasons. I resisted the urge to jump the band wagon, because the mentality behind this surge hinged on mass hysteria and hate. I call this type of mentality "Fox News Mentality." In the days that followed 9/11 anyone not agreeing with the Bush Administrations policies was labeled an America hating liberal. Many conservative pundits capitalized on this narrow definition patriotism by chanting the love it or leave it mantra and waving the "flag." Those citizens who embraced the conservative pundits views also intertwined the flag with Christianity practically replacing the cross as the religion's symbol. The beginning of the 21st century has seen the pendulum swing very far to the right twisting the consciousness of the United States and its views on patriotism. But no more shall I resist flying the flag!

After my friend Adam died fighting in Iraq I did some soul searching, and I found comfort in the stars and stripes. While his death was as senseless as the war itself, I saw Adam's sacrifice representing something bigger than ourselves, and I found myself urning for my country to finally embrace those ideals it has yet to achieve. I am reminded of the movie Saving Private Ryan, where Tom Hanks' character imparts instructions to Ryan, played by Matt Damon. At the end of the movie Hanks' character is gravely wounded and Damon bends down to hear Hanks speak the words "Earn this." Ryan was saved because of the sacrifice of fellow soldiers.

Now more than ever, citizens need to take charge once again, and earn the sacrifice of those who died. Our country has been led down the wrong path for the past several decades. Positive social institutions created during the progressive era of F.D.R., have been worn away bit by bit. Greedy corporations making consumption our new pastime control the government through well financed lobbyists and the so called "liberal media." Apathy exhibited by Americans towards the government is astounding. It is time for those who believe that the United States is "one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all," stand and reclaim the flag.