I’m about to raise a white flag.
A couple of weeks ago I thought it would be interesting to take pictures of all the different flags I see flying outside homes around Logan — of which there are many lately — and write a column on the subject. But with the time to compose that column now upon me, I’m finding it difficult to start.
This hesitation seems to be out of fear about making some readers mad. Flags can be a touchy subject. Perhaps if I ease into the topic with a few basic statements, some other sentences will flow from there.
On one level, a flag is just a piece of rectangular cloth. Add a design and it takes on meaning. Flags unfurl beautifully in a breeze, which puts a romantic flourish on whatever meaning it is you wish to ascribe to them. They flap violently in a strong wind, which isn’t so romantic. They also get tattered and faded if you don’t take care of them, and this is the case with many flags flown by the residents of Logan.
People fly flags to express pride in the things the flags represent and, in some cases, to make political statements. There seems to be a wide variety of flags flying in our community these days because a lot of people feel a need to make statements and announce to the world where they stand.
But of course there is more to the subject of flags than all of that, especially when it comes to national flags and the American flag in particular. The Stars and Stripes hold a more venerated status in our society than all the other banners and standards displayed on front porches and behind the cabs of pickup trucks, and here’s where I’m going to offer a small opinion and risk raising a few hackles.
It’s interesting that some people think the American flag represents their side of the political spectrum more than their opponents’ side, and they proudly post it next to their other partisan message flags. Flying Old Glory alongside the other banners is fine, but I’m throwing a yellow flag on the notion that any group can claim it as exclusively theirs.
Come on, people. Old Glory belongs to Americans of every stripe, as it were, and if a day comes when one political party or political faction is able to hijack it as their exclusive symbol, you hate to think what might come next.
The American flag both transcends and incorporates all of the other flags I photographed in Logan last week — from the LGBT flag to the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, from the peace-sign flag to the “Thin Blue Line” flag, from sea to shining sea (cymbals here)!
In my recent flag scavenger hunt, I found no Confederate flags, but I’ll venture one more potentially inflammatory opinion here and declare I don’t think that crisscross of bars and stars fits comfortably under the umbrella of the American flag, unlike the others. Simple logic screams no. The Confederates fought against the country represented by the great waving symbol that flies over our nation’s capitol.
Still, residents certainly have every right to fly it, thanks to the rights of free speech afforded by the U.S. Constitution and represented by that symbol.
The photo at the center of the montage above features a Logan home with an American flag accompanied by a variety of signs that I thought readers would enjoy no matter which side of the today’s cultural divide they occupy. If you can’t read the signs, the one on the left says “Prayer is the best way to meet the Lord. Trespassing is faster.” The one on the right says “Warning. You are entering a redneck area. You may encounter American flags, armed citizens, the Lord’s Prayer & country music.”
This particular home used to display a Confederate flag along with Old Glory, but I haven’t seen it there for a couple of years. I blacked out the resident's street number in the photo for privacy reasons, although he's obviously not shy about what he stands for.
A couple of flags in the montage were unfamiliar to me until I Googled them. The one at top left, featuring Britain’s “Union Jack” in tandem with 13 stripes, is called the “Grand Union Flag.” It is said to have been the first national flag of the United States, originally raised upon a ship of the Continental Navy in 1775.
I believe the flag at bottom left comes from the one-time French colony of Acadia in far eastern Canada. Why it’s on display in Logan, I have no idea, but you see occasional Canadian flags around town as well. The flag at bottom right is a mystery to me, and I couldn’t get close enough for a good look at it without trespassing.
We know what happens to trespassers in these parts, right?