Reclaiming The American Flag

Oct 12, 2018

Shortly after the Fourth of July, I began flying the American flag from my front porch. Ever since, a 3-by-5 foot flag has waved on my street in Montague, Massachusetts. 

Much of Montague Center remains Bernie Sanders country. Only a few homes fly the stars and stripes, and that’s the problem.

Because the American flag is not the flag of a single party. Even if it festoons every Trump rally, the flag belongs to all of us. It’s the symbol of “We, the people,” and people like me, who staunchly oppose this president, should display it as proudly as his staunchest supporters.

Surrendering the nation’s most enduring symbol to one party is just bad politics.

It was time to reclaim the flag.

My wife was reluctant. What would the neighbors think?

She only agreed when I agreed to place a sign beside our flag. In blue, green and orange, it begins: “No matter where you are from...”

These two polarized symbols now stand outside our home. I hope they send a message of bipartisanship, but I’m afraid most passersby just think one Democrat and one Republican live here, and that we argue day and night. Still, my flag continues to fly. 

I also made a flag T-shirt with an Obama quote on the back: "I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith... all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag."

Obama knew what all Americans should know: their history. This flag is the flag that flew over the Capitol when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. This is the flag Bruce Springsteen, no conservative he, plastered on the cover of Born in the USA. And it’s the flag— the only flag — on the moon.

In 1912, when immigrants in Lawrence, Massachusetts, walked off their mill jobs, they paraded behind an American flag. A half-century later, Civil Rights marchers in Selma carried flags.

Even Abbie Hoffman understood that, dissent being patriotic, the flag was his as much as anyone else’s. Fifty years ago, Hoffman was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He wore his favorite shirt, fashioned from the stars and stripes. He was arrested and convicted for defiling the flag, but his conviction was overturned.

That decision was as American as apple pie, because this flag... is ours.

My flag flies out front. And I ask my fellow Americans, especially those who do not support this president: Where’s yours?

Commentator Bruce Watson writes an online magazine, "The Attic – True Stories for a Kinder, Cooler AmericaA version of this piece first appeared in USA Today.