Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Phony patriotism

The great Eastern vacation has moved to the homestead in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. My mother, bless her heart, was just telling me about the neighbors across the street who felt compelled, as well they should, I guess, to fly the American flag. My mother comes from the Greatest Generation, a generation that knew a little something about patriotism and I don't remember our family ever flying the American flag. It didn't have to. My Dad was in World War II and didn't feel compelled to tell you. That's the funny thing about the Greatest Generation; it never did.

But this is the "look at me, I'm a patriot" generation and as long as that means doing everything but actually, you know, signing up for military service, then everyone seems to be on board. Back to the neighbors. They flew a flag to tell you how much they loved it. They flew it at night -- unlighted -- they flew it in bad weather...they flew it until it was in tatters on the pole. Now if you know anything about the American flag, you know that those are three cardinal sins.

Finally, my mother found an ad in the paper for an American flag, taped it to a card, and mailed it to the people across the street who must've gotten the message because they took the flag down.

It's curious that she was just telling us this story because I just stumbled across this picture from Minnesota Public Radio's Web site.

This is our flag-loving congressman from the 6th Congressional District and his patriotic wife. I'm sure they're very nice people. They just happen to have a lot in common with the flag burners I'm sure they hate.

Given that the guy makes our laws -- and is a supporter of a flag amendment so he must know the flag rules -- I shouldn't have to call his attention to US Code Title 4, Section 8d.

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.

What we have here is phony patriotism.

Expect a note from my mother.


DaveG said...

they flew it in bad weather

Well, there is this:

"The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed."

That said, we have an all-weather flag but we bring it in when the weather is bad. My time in the military, including getting up very early in the AM for volunteer flag ceremony duty, stuck with me in this regard. The haircut is another matter entirely! :-)

Bob Collins said...

I used to volunteer for flag duty too, but it wasn't in the military; it was elementary school, which in my case -- I think was something similar. It was, though, quite an honor to be the ones to put it up and take it down, and fold it appropriately before bringing it to the principal's office. I don't think my mother's neighbors ever volunteered for flag duty, though, and if their flag -- from the story she tells -- was all weather, they got taken. Maybe, though.