The Revolutionary War. Slavery. The Civil War, Reconstrution, Suffrage, two World Wars, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the Cold War, terrorism. Americans have dealt with conflict and division the day we called ourselves Americans. Our forefathers and foremothers were badass traitors, after all. It’s in our blood.
Division is emotional. It grabs you when reason seems to have failed. When two sides – or more – simply can’t or won’t work toward compromise. But sometimes we give in when we should show backbone.
I dropped the flag after last November’s election. Stuffed it in a corner of the garage in complete disgust. I simply couldn’t believe this country would ever elect a person like our current president to such a position. It felt like it was more than simply politics. It was personal. I disagreed with what I saw as a lack of intelligence, a lack of moral character, a sucker’s belief that “telling it like it is” is somehow an honorable trait. There are times when ugly truths must be told, this is true. But to purposefully manipulate so many, to spew hatred and ignorance with no remorse and no regard for effect? That I could never accept. And never will.
So I opened the front door, grabbed the flag, walked to the garage, and jammed it next to three bags of clothing destined for Goodwill. “That flag won’t go back until this country gets its shit together,” I swore.
And there is stayed, until a quarter of an hour ago.
Our collective shit is no more together now than it was in November 2016. It might be worse off. But the flag is up again, and there it will stay. Not because I support the direction of the United States government, but because I support the people of the United States. Veterans, those who serve today, those who died fighting. All those who raised hell when hell needed to be raised. Americans who go to work and hope they’ll be able to pay the mortgage this time next year. Americans who have no way to pay the mortgage, much less the rent. Americans who fight fires, save lives, and protect the public. Americans addicted to drugs, the mentally ill, the weak, those who fight demons and pressures we can’t understand, but who now, more than ever, need our help. So it’s for the slaves, the Suffragettes, the marchers, the demonstrators, the folk singers and poets and punks, for cops and addicts, for rich and destitute, for babies taking their first step and those stepping over the ledge. It’s for all people fighting bravely, because putting up a good fight is in our blood. That’s why this flag flies again.
This country stands for all sides, beliefs, religions, genders, sexual identities, and every other way you can carve a society into pockets of belonging.
We’re better than what we’ve recently shown. I can’t and won’t give in to apathy, allowing others to denigrate what others have fought for in the past and continue to fight for today. There’s a lot of fight left in that flag, so I’m letting it fly.
Happy Fourth of July.