Bye Bye, Miss American Pie: Whatever Happened to Flying the American Flag?

Friday, July 02, 2010

My mother made an observation the other day that slightly agitated her: she said no one was displaying the American flag on their homes anymore, least of all in our town.

So when I got out of work early today for the long holiday weekend, I decided to take my usual bike ride around the surrounding neighborhoods and see for myself.

Yup, she was right. Americans today are perfectly fine with letting their freak flags fly, but the American flag? Not so much. Out of the 200 or so houses that I passed on my usual route, I counted two that had flags attached to them. Another property had a gigantic flagpole and flag flapping away on it, and a fourth house had some sort of patriotic looking wreath made of red, white, and blue flowers if that counts. That’s a return flag rate of 2%.

My mother said it used to be everyone brought out their house flags for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Flag Day holidays. In wondering what happened to our nation’s patriotism, I came to a few conclusions. They are:

1. First of, scratch that. The answer is no one gives a shit anymore. I’m sorry to drop the s-bomb on what I consider to be a PG rated blog, but honesty sometimes calls for honest language. And there are several reasons why we don’t care about Old Glory anymore.

Never before in U.S. history has America been looked more down upon. We’re essentially the Charlie Brown of the planet’s nations right now. We’re still dealing with a high unemployment rate, a lack of jobs, two wars, and the worst environmental disaster in known to man. Also, nothing is being made in America anymore. Well, maybe not nothing….guitar strings and other accessories are still being made in America, even though the actual guitars, including my Ibanez, are being manufactured in China. I only know this because I have a guitar. Toothpicks are still being made in America. Staples are made here. You get the idea. Why, I remember someone saying that they purchased an American flag a few years ago and was shocked to see on the label that it was made in China!

My mother, on the other hand, got married right after World War II – a time when America was awfully proud to be America. We’d just defeated evil, baby making was booming, jobs were growing, and it was a wonderful time to be alive.

So it’s no surprise that our patriotism has taken a kick to the crotch the past couple of decades. We’re a pretty depressed nation right now. I also don’t think the tradition of hanging out the flag has been passed on to newer generations. I’m not faulting anyone for failing to put out a flag on patriotic holidays because to be honest, if I had my own place right now it probably wouldn’t have even occurred to me to make a trip to the nearest hardware or home store and pick up a flag.

Except that I have a mother from the World War II generation who mentioned it. So, add American flag to the list of things I still need when I find the mid-century house of my dreams in my price range.

Happy Fourth of July!


  1. I live in the northeastern US and there are some flags, possibly more than you saw. We just bought a house and there is a flag pole with a spot light on it. The gentleman that lived in the house for the past 40 years served in WWII. Seeing the flagpole was one of the things that enamored me to the house. My son served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and more than anything I want him to raise the flag for the first time when we move in. I am honored to call him son, and will be honored to have him raise the flag that he served under.

  2. I am proud to say I fly the flag every day at my house.

    Take a look!

    Happy 4th to you!

  3. Ya know I went through all my hippie days, my smart ass know it all days, and my blame America for everything I see how blessed we are, no matter what is happening in history at the moment. The Great Depression came and went, and a lot of other sad American times. I think now, more than ever, we need to get back to some cohesiveness as a people. But, as you say, does anyone really care?

  4. There were loads of England flags flying around here... til we got knocked out of the World Cup!
    Seems like patriotism is only for sporting events around here.

  5. We live in a small town and there are alot of flags, so that is good. I fly mine every day of the year and it is lit at night. Such a great site.

  6. We still have the American flag that we used to fly up until about the early 90s at our old apartment. We've never done so here though.

    I often think how terrible it is that hardly anything is made in America anymore. I feel guilty for saying this, but sometimes I'm ashamed to be an American. I used to be proud but not so much anymore because of the reasons that you wrote about. When I drive past where the GM plant that my Dad worked at used to be up until a couple of years ago I feel very sad. I wish that I could express myself better about all of this.

  7. Great comments from everyone...I would imagine if you have a loved one or know someone serving in the military you're more likely to display a flag on your home.

    LaraAnn - sorry to hear about your father's job. I am sure we all have times where we're not so proud of our country. I really believe that we need to bring back manufacturing jobs in this is pathetic to me that companies like Maytag would close down a plant in the midwest where so many people in one town depend on that company for their livelihood and hand the jobs over to other countries.

  8. I can find lots of Laker's flags at the store but can't seem to find an American flag to fly (except ones made in China which I refuse to buy).

    But your post is a good kick in the rear to order one online. I keep forgetting to do so.

    On another note, I was taking care of my in-laws for about 10 days and there were flags flying all the way down the street.

  9. I see what you mean. I think it's hard for people to feel they can celebrate ideas like "freedom" and "independence" when the people that so loudly espouse these ideas are people that use them as code words for xenophobia, racism, etc. A lot of people, especially in my generation, think of the kind of over patriotism a flag shows as something only rednecks do. That being said, I also know many confuse cynicism with sharp social criticism.

  10. When I bought my first house in 2006, it was a requirement that a flag was flown, not an issue with my (now ex)husband who is in the Army. I couldn't really do much in the apartments that I lived in, but the house I'm in now has a flag proudly flying. My neighbors have 2 flag poles, one in the front and one in the back! I think its so important.

    I was also going through old family photos and came across one of my Grandma Pinky holding a flag that she got as a birthday present. My mom told me that she was very patriotic, and even though I didn't get to know her very well, I think that's one quality that she definately passed on to me!!


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