Flag day

What would a patriot wear? Does a flag on the lapel make a good president? Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, discuss stars, stripes and pins this week.

By Salon Staff

Published April 25, 2008 6:45PM (EDT)

Issues and News

Politics for Non-Junkies

jtr- 03:03 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 24, 2008 -- #1890 of 1924

Could someone point me to some info/material about Obama'a refusal to wear a flag pin and put his hand over his heart for the anthem?

It's embarrassing to say, but my MIL was trotting this out yesterday -- someone sent her an e-mail, and now she's worried about nefarious reasons for it.

I don't really want to get into a "Really??? You think someone's patriotism hinges on wearing a particular piece of jewelry? Really?!?" kind of conversation with her, but if I could bring out a "this is why, nothing to look at here" kind of reference, that would be great.

hedy -- 03:20 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 24, 2008 -- #1891 of 1924

You know, during that ABC debate, when they had the clip of the woman asking the flag pin question? I wished I were Charlton Heston. Because I would have grabbed the nearest gun and blasted a hole in the TV.

Lynn -- 03:58 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 24, 2008 -- #1898 of 1924

I was walking the dog today and I remembered that in the school I attended from K through 4, singing the anthem wasn't required. Each kid got to pick a patriotic song of our choice -- the choices were the anthem, "America the Beautiful," "America for Me," "This Land Is Your Land." And this was 1965-69 in a Republican stronghold (I remember Nixon showed up at our A&P.) I'd like to say I chose the Guthrie song, since I now understand more about it, but at the time I thought it was hopelessly corny. I chose the second one because I thought it was pretty.

We live in a very liberal community now and I cannot imagine [schools] allowing [children] to sing that song in place of the anthem. Patriotism, or rather the socially acceptable showy version of it, is a tightrope these days.

StephanieL -- 05:31 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 24, 2008 -- #1902 of 1924

I think what I find so frustrating about this, and about the Rev. Wright thing as well, is that there is absolutely no room for complexity in the understanding of patriotism. I think most of us feel at the mercy of political forces larger than ourselves at one time or another. I think we all have had moments of thinking that it's all going straight to hell and taking us with it.

I would be extremely uncomfortable wearing a flag pin as jewelry, and not just because it would ruin the outfit. I'd be uncomfortable with it because I feel like it would be a statement of unconditional pride and support. I don't offer this country unconditional pride and support BECAUSE I am a patriot. I hold this country to the highest standard. I feel like we should all, as citizens, hold this country to that standard. So I'm completely disgusted by people who ask questions like, "Do you believe in the flag?" or "Do you love your country?" as if those are simple questions with simple answers. I believe in what our flag represents. I love the ideals I associate with my country. But that's not comfortable. It shouldn't be comfortable. None of us should pretend to be comfortable. We shouldn't be able to answer those questions or wear that flag pin easily or unthinkingly. Because then the betrayal is ours.

Gimble -- 06:41 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 24, 2008 -- #1911 of 1924

The U.S. flag code, which is federal law, states in section 7(d), 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.

Sometime in the '80s it seems like wearing flag shorts, painted on jackets, etc. became popular. And people stopped learning what the flag code actually says.

It makes me angry when people fly their flags in the dark, when tattered, etc. and claim to be superiorly patriotic because they have a flag, over those of us that actually respect the flag as a symbol and don't fly or wear one in a manner that is disrespectful.

I once had a blowout fight with an über-conservative teacher that wanted to have the whole school autograph a flag to show our patriotism on the first 9/11 anniversary. Even after I trotted out ...

7(g): The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

He still didn't see why having the kids sign the flag was such a big deal to me.

I don't know how our current administration has managed to brainwash some people into thinking that carrying around a symbol is the same thing as actually following through with action. In my mind paying a Chinese factory $5 for a yellow ribbon magnet isn't the same thing as actually supporting the troops, but some people can't seem to tell the difference. The same goes for the flag lapel pin.

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