What Does The American Flag Mean To Them?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for ALL” Pledge of Allegiance (yes I wrote that by heart and someone painted this for me a long time ago)
The American flag looks the same to me as it did when I was a kid. We had this picture of Kennedy in front of the flag in my dining room growing up. I said the pledge of allegiance to the flag every morning in school. To amuse myself, I would say it differently each time – fast, slow, with different accents on different words, blending the words together, every other word…. I watched on TV when they stuck the American flag on the moon. I felt pride when I saw the American athletes draping themselves in it at the Olympics. It’s the flag that Bruce Springsteen plastered on the cover of Born In The USA and Jasper Johns painted over and over.
I don’t know when it happened, but the election of Donald Trump turned the flag into a weapon. It became a symbol for the sort of white people that believed that only they were the true Americans. Wearing the American flag on a hat or T shirt became a threat. It says you either believe what I believe or you are my enemy.
For the first time in our history, we had a president who was only the president for people who supported him and he fanned this flame of hatred. Trump supporters have appropriated the symbol of this great nation as theirs and theirs alone. This attitude is completely at odds with what the flag means and what it stands for.
I can’t imagine what my father who was a captain in the US Army for twenty years and fought in two wars would think of this. I wonder how many Trump supporters fought in two wars to defend this flag. Would they parrot a president who avoided being in a war that he wasn’t a loser because he lived and did not get captured? Is that who he fought for?
The flag belongs to all of us. It is meant to be a symbol of we – “we the people,” and we should be able to display it proudly as well. In lieu of flags non Trump supporters post signs – Black Lives Matter, Health Care Is A Human Right and No Hate Here.
A few years ago there was an art project in Los Angeles where artists painted angel statues and placed them around the city. One of them was painted like the American flag. I watched a crazy, screaming, half dressed homeless man walk by it. He suddenly stopped and turned around and stood in front of it, put his hand on his heart and said the pledge of allegiance quietly and then continued walking and talking to himself. .
I think of this man every time I see a Trump supporter waving an American flag. If you were a child growing up in a public school in the US, the pledge is ingrained in you, whether you like it or not. We were taught to repeat it and we were never given a back story. We didn’t really pay attention to the words. I lived in an immigrant community and we were always taught by our parents how lucky we were to live here. For most of us, the flag meant that we were proud to be an American. This flag is part of my story also.#takebacktheflag