Tattered Flags

Like many Americans, I’ve been reflecting about the events that shook our nation ten years ago today.

And, even though my memories of the following days  aren’t nearly as vivid, I remember one thing very clearly.

There were American flags everywhere.

They were flying on private homes.  They adorned t-shirts and other articles of clothing.  And they were fluttering on moving vehicles.

I found this fascinating.  Not just because I’d never before seen American  flags flying on automobiles as though they were paraphernalia for a sports team, but because the flags were so easily damaged, which seemed to defeat the purpose of flying them.

As a child in Girl Scouts, I remember being taught all the rules about how to handle and treat a flag. As a young adult, I remembered the national debate over the issue of defacing and even burning flags as a sign of protest.

And yet, in the days after 911,  people were damaging their flags in the name of patriotism.

At the time, I wasn’t particularly upset by this phenomena; I simply found it  interesting. But now, ten years later, the tattered flags represent something much greater to me:  while America initially came together after 9 11, we’ve since been tearing  apart – kind of like those flags waving on the cars.

I think that’s because some people equate patriotism with pride, pride with winning and winning with defeating an enemy.

There have been and always will be plenty of enemies to our country, we don’t need to be creating them.

But some people seem intent on doing so by pointing fingers at immigrants,  people with different religious beliefs, people with different political ideas, people who are poor, etc.  The list goes on and on.

Each time fingers point, I hear the American flag rip a bit more. That’s because our flag represents a country that was founded by immigrants.  A country that welcomed  people who didn’t have the same religious beliefs as the establishment. A country that encouraged diverse ways of thinking. A country that has a rich tradition of helping those who are down on their luck.

Rip.

Rip.

Rip.

Rip.

As the tenth anniversary of September 11 draws to a close, I hope that people  focus not only on all the lives that were lost on that horrible day but also  on the possibilities that we initially found that day.

The possibility that we could come together as a country to help each other.

The possibility that we were better united than we are divided.

The possibility that we use our diverse strengths to support each other rather than to tear each other down.

The possibility that we live can live up to ideals represented by our flag: a flag that may be a bit  torn and ripped but still stands for a compassionate, caring and idealistic country.

A flag we can all fly with pride.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a theater kid in high school, a band kid at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on September 11, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I so agree, Trina. Like the cartoonist said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” ~L

  2. “[S]ome people seem intent on doing so by pointing fingers at immigrants, people with different religious beliefs, people with different political ideas, people who are poor, etc. The list goes on and on.”

    It certainly does. Some people also seem intent on doing so by pointing fingers at those who support controlling our borders and lawful immigration as “racists,” people with different religious beliefs as “theocrats,” people who support constitutional limitations on the Federal government, people who are successful, etc.

    I, too, “hear the American flag rip a bit more. That’s because our flag represents a country that was founded by [legal] immigrants. A country that welcomed people who didn’t have the same religious beliefs as the establishment. A country that encouraged diverse ways of thinking. A country that has a rich tradition of helping those who are down on their luck [with more effective private and religiously-based aid].”

  3. Well said, Trina. You and my daughter are like two peas in a pod…different yet the same in the major scheme of things. Sarah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: