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How Do You Define the American Flag?

Posted on September 08 2016

First and foremost, I am a combat veteran. I love this country but that does not mean I cannot criticize it when I feel it falls short of its symbolic nature. See the American flag is just that, a symbol.

It's part of human nature to assign meaning and feelings to symbols. We have done it all throughout history. From religions, (the cross, star of David) to countries, (flags, birds, songs), to states and all the way down to our smallest social circles. We use symbols as a means to identify with. We create traditions around these symbols to increase their importance and likelihood they are passed down to the next generation. It is a story of those who identify with it.

That is why to some they take it very seriously. They treat the flag as an extension of themselves and as the unified whole. It gives them a sense of identity. It allows them to pay honor and respect through tradition and religious ceremonies. The Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner and everything that surrounds the flag continues our fascination with its tradition. It gives rise to tribalism, nationalism and patriotism. All things that can be good but with excess will bring ultimate demise.

When I see people get so upset about the flag, I see Nazi Germany all over again. I see the ugliness that it brings and the utter blindness of its division. A flag that represents the religious tenants of America, so called freedom and liberty. Yet they are selective about their outrage.

Look at section 8 of the flag code. It defines the flag as a living organism.

It also states: "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general."

"The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown."

Yet I hear no one mounting a campaign against these violations of the flag code.

Did you know Jehovah Witnesses do not sing and only stand because its the "ethical" thing to do. Yet I hear no one calling them terrorists or un American.

The Star Spangled Banner's code states: "states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. A law passed in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well".

But there is no punishment for violating the code and by law conduct during the Star Spangled Banner is subject to the first amendment. What does that mean? The first amendment trumps this U.S. Code.

Its sad that I hear the common phrase "if gays were in other countries you would be stoned to death" but then I hear "police may not provide security to 49ers games or any player not standing will sit out the entire game." Do you not see the similarities? Punishment for dissent but because we have the protection of a semi functional justice system, they will not be killed. So we ostracize them and try to publicly shame them. We try to force them back into consensus culture. But that goes against everything that the flag DOES stand for.

I love this country because a man can burn a bible in the street and no one hangs him. I love this country because you can burn our flag without being stoned in the public square. I love this country because we allow people to go against the majority without threat of violence or death (to an extent). That is what I fought for. The ability to throw tea into a harbor without being jailed. The ability to be an individual.

The flag is just a flag. When we speak of Rome, Athens, Sparta or any of the other great countries that existed in the past, do we still fly their flags? No we speak about their beliefs and systems. Their ideas. Those countries may be gone but their ideas still live on and influence our lives everyday. Its not their flag that did...

Just like in V for Vendetta, when V is being shot at the end. He continues to move towards the guy. He asks V why he does not die and he replies "Because you cant kill an idea". That is what we should be focused on... When every cell in our body dies, does our body cease to exist? No it continues to regenerate and thus carries on our conscious through new cells. A flag may be destroyed, a tradition may be lost but the values and ideas transform and live on. That is America. 

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