I received an email from a family member calling one and all to display an American flag on 9/11 this year. On the face of it, I think that's a nice idea. For all my impertinence about my country and its place in the world, I did something somewhat strange for a reasonably liberal civilian shortly after we moved into our new apartment this summer. The American flag out front was in piss-poor condition. It was a disgrace. So I set about to replace it. My father picked one up for me (and made in the USA to boot), and I replaced it.
The old one is folded and sits on my mantel until the next time I go camping, at which time I will set the flag aflame, salute it, and that's that. My wife teases that it looks like a memorial, sitting in a sort of place on honor in our living room.
I say “somewhat strange” because more than one person acted surprised that I should care about the condition of our nation's flag at all, let alone on a building I don't own but instead pay a lot to live in. I mean, left-leaning people can't be patriotic, right?
I remember doing something similar to what a lot of people did after 9/11/2001. I hung a flag from the balcony of my apartment just outside Boston. (Of course, I hung it correctly.) Some Boston-based newspaper printed a huge flag for people to hang that week, and there was one pasted to the token booth at the North Quincy T station. Flags were everywhere.
And the email I received points that out. Just after 3,000 people were murdered (or killed in an act of “war” – your pick), we all had flags on display. For some people, it might have been the way the wind was blowing. I suppose it could have been a solidarity thing, too. For myself, this was largely the case, but it was also partly a “fuck you” to all enemies, foreign and domestic, as they say. My own flag was draped not just in sorrow, but in anger.