Friday, November 12, 2010

Flying the Flag

My dear spouse yesterday reminded me that we had utterly failed to fly the flag for Veterans Day. I was deeply chagrined, as I enjoy flying the colors for every appropriate holiday so long as we are in town. We fly the flag because it represents our feelings towards this country we call home. We are truly grateful to be citizens of the United States of America, and flying the flag is an appropriate expression of that citizenship.

That's why this particular story raises my blood pressure a few notches.

Understand, however, that it is not the actions of the school administrators involved with this incident that have me seeing red. They acted on information that they possessed and experiences that they had recently had with the flying of a Mexican flag during Cinco de Mayo (according to at least one account), and decided to ban the adornment out of safety concerns for their students. It was probably a reflexive reaction to a situation and driven at least partially by a desire to not have any child's blood on their hands. I can understand the sentiment.

What leaves me short of breath in this case is the need for making such a decision in the first place.

If you read my post from yesterday, wherein I honored my Dad as part of my Veterans Day celebration, then you understand how I feel about this country. Displaying an American flag on American soil is fundamentally no different from displaying any given nation's flag on their own soil. It is, in fact, encouraged in most countries to display the banner of their homeland, often in ways far more aggressive and ostentatious than we do here in the United States. Certainly it was that way in Guatemala, and I have seen plenty of photographic evidence from other countries as well.

Citizenship 101 would also indicate that, even if you choose to honor the country of your birth and fly a flag from any other nation, say, Mexico as an example, then that flag should always be flown underneath the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate that you recognize the United States as your country of choice and the nation to which you owe your circumstances, including the opportunity to earn a living and provide for your needs and those of your family.

I myself come from a background that is heavily English and German in origin. I do not, however, feel any overwhelming urge to fly the flags of either nation here at home. I am grateful for the heritage, and may even try to emulate certain of their traditions in my own life, but I owe them no other allegiance whatsoever.

My feelings can best be summed up thus: Flying any other nation's flag above the Stars and Stripes indicates to me that you do not belong in this country, or, at the very least, do not appreciate being here. And for those who simply hate the United States, the exits are clearly marked and always open.

It really is that simple.

I try to be a tolerant man. I have no ingrained or deep-rooted prejudices against any race or nationality of which I am aware. If I have a lack of tolerance, it is mostly reserved for those people who lay claim to living and working in this country, while clearly despising everything else that this country represents, including those most basic of rights wherein we may freely express our thoughts and opinions, and worship as we see fit. If these things make you uncomfortable, you ought not to be here.

So the next time you see a kid riding a bike with an American flag attached, remind yourself to not only be grateful that we have such a privilege, but that we should jealously defend that privilege when suffering the mockery and scorn that so many other nations level at us when displaying such patriotism.

Don't just tell me you want to live here.

Prove it.

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