Everyday Is Flag Day
in the USA
by Ron Ridenour - Dissident Voice
“How are you?” a perky, young female clerk asked me as I
walked through the front door of the odds and ends shop in Upper Dublin,
Pennsylvania near Philadelphia.
I was taken aback by her forthright question. I hadn’t been
to the US for a dozen years and had just arrived the night before from Denmark
where one is not asked such an intimate question by strangers. I had come to
visit my friend Dave and partake in a reunion of the 1970s alternative weekly,
the Los Angeles Vanguard, and the new online
“Not so well; kinda sad,” I ventured timidly.
The questioner’s jaw dropped. The three women customers
stopped talking and looked at me inquisitively.
“Why’s that?” asked the clerk.
“Do you really want to know?” I asked incredulously.
The clerk nodded her head. “Yes, I do.”
“Well, I’m sad about this country killing so many people in
the world through their wars of aggression.”
The three customers immediately rushed out the door, one
waving her gloved hand to the clerk while averting her eyes from my perplexed
I’d already witnessed some disconcerting signs on the early
morning walk that had led me to this mall. It bothered me to see so many US
flags flying just about everywhere, including at this little gift shop. What is
the meaning with so much attention being given to Old Glory?
“We’re patriotic. We’re more principled than Muslims,”
explained the car wash business owner on at a nearby corner. His business was
displaying a dozen flags in three sizes. The largest was about 10X17 feet,
around the size of the 1820s Old Glory flag sown for a seafaring whaler, Captain
Driver. This car wash business flew three flags on tall poles. A dozen smaller
ones were stuck into the ground around the building site, as if marking off its
“Oh? You seem really obsessed about your flag,” I replied.
The small businessman in his 40s glared at me with arms
“Hrumph! You Europeans are socialists, softies,” he said,
with a wry grin.
“Not at all,” I replied. “Europe runs on a capitalist
economy just like here, but there is a better social network for its workers,
because they fought for such.”
“Well, social welfare is the same,” he retorted. “It all
boils down to state control and we don’t want that here. We fly our flag to
show our patriotism for freedom, for private property. The flag is flown more
since 9/11. It shows us and the world that we are proud to be Americans. We
stand strong, united in patriotism.”
With the tenth anniversary of 9-11 in the air, I decided to
walk on without jumping onto my soapbox. Thus, I averted telling off a probable
supporter of the war culture (the default United States method for dealing with
conflict and for advancing business interests). Just two days after September
11, 2001 explosions, the local daily Philadelphia
Inquirer had headlined its response to the terror attack (whose authors,
polls suggest, one-third of U.S. citizens believe may well have included
members of the Bush/Cheney administration) “Give War a Chance”.
And that is just what President George W. Bush did by
invading first Afghanistan and then his main target, Iraq. With Obama’s six
wars, including Bush’s two, the US has invaded or intervened militarily in 66
countries 160 times since World War II, killing several millions of people,
torturing tens of thousands and creating millions of refugees.
The tallest of flagpoles in this shopping center stood close
by the car wash. It was six stories high and housed communication cables and
hidden cell-phone antennas. On top flew one of the largest of flags imaginable.
This contraption was located on the property of a barbershop. The barbers
didn’t want to talk about it much but admitted that the property’s owner did
receive economic “compensation” from the Maple Glenn Township for allowing the
pole there. One neighbor said the compensation amounted to $10,000 annually.
It was time to shop for wine and food. Wine and spirits are
sold separately in state-owned stores (socialism?), and inside, at every cash
register, stood a small U.S. flag on a stand. The cashiers said this was
normal. At the nearby Safeway-owned Genuardi chain food store more flags stood
guard. In fact, the store sold small flags for everyday home decoration.
Incidentally, all the clerks and cashiers were super polite
and asked me how I was. But I was already leery of answering truthfully.
Walking back to Dave’s, I passed other stores and three
banks all flying the stars and stripes.
This flag fetish was most fetching on the side streets where
the large wooden and stone houses were owned by upper middle class families. Flags
were glued to house windows. Some signs beside the flags read: “Proud to be an
American” or “United We Stand”. Flags were embossed on mailboxes, on the backs
of car mirrors and body sides, even on bicycles. Flags were screwed or hammered
into trees, into electric and telephone poles. They guarded the steps up to
On one street corner, a huge lot was empty of buildings.
Multiple signs were stuck into the earth and hammered into trees, warning:
“Posted Private Property—No trespassing.” Mansions stood on the opposite corner
flying Old Glory in an expression of respect
private property or else!
Right next door to Dave’s home was one of numerous Protestant
churches in this area. Between its buildings stood a six-foot pole with a large
flag on top, in defiance of the democratic notion of “separation of church and
But the most impressive of all patriots in this neighborhood
was the nearest house to Dave on the other side of the church.
In front of this house up a hill from the road stood two
gigantic flagpoles with large flags flying. In front of the large house were
two campers and five cars. There were small flags stuck into the grass. But
best of all was the split-rail wooden fence dividing the property from the
street. A flag flew on each post about every six feet apart along the
three-railed fence. There were about 20 of them in all. There was also room to
fly flags supporting the POWs (prisoners of war) and MIAs (missing in action)
from four decades ago when the US was murdering millions of Vietnamese,
Laotians and Cambodians. Despite the fact that there are no longer any POWs or
MIAs, these house owners, and many more I was to see in the coming weeks, flew
such symbols of loyalty for their invading warrior “heroes” of yore.
Some flag history is appropriate here.
June 14 was designated as “National Flag Day” by the
Second Continental Congress, in 1777, honoring the creation of the American
Continental Army in 1775. U.S. citizens are urged to fly the American flag
during this week. The flag should also be displayed on all government
Another day associated with flying the flag is Armistice
Day, established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918, as November 11, the day
armistice was signed by WWI warring parties.
On June 4, 1926, Congressional Resolution 18 was approved,
Whereas the 11th of November, 1918, marked the cessation of
the most destructive, sanguinary, and far-reaching war in human annals and the
resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other
nations, which we hope may never again be severed; and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this
date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed
to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations;
(Resolved) Officials [are] to display the flag of the United
States on all Government buildings on November 11 …ceremonies expressive of our
gratitude for peace and our desire for the continuance of friendly relations
with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May
13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday — a day to be
dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known
as “Armistice Day.” On October 8, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed
November 11 as Veterans Day, honoring all US military veterans.
Since these proclamations, the flag is now flown everyday at
every government building and, as shown above, is revered by tens of millions
of Us-Americans in something akin to worshiping some totem. However, the
declared noble intention to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual
understanding between nations” has, to say the least, been long forgotten.
As of June 8, 2011, Wikipedia ascertained that
Veterans Day “Honors the 24.9 million military veterans in the United States”.
These veterans were used to perpetuate the wars against
“peace and good will and mutual understanding”.
Ron Ridenour is an
activist who has written many books on Cuba, including Cuba: Beyond the
Crossroads (2006) and Cuba at Sea (2008). More information on Ridenour can be
found at www.ronridenour.com.