I read an article about what Europeans found the most shocking about America. One item was the “number of American flags. They are just everywhere.” I thought about it. I would have to agree with that assessment and until 2016 I never thought of that as a bad thing.
As I drive into work every day I pass through mostly rural communities. Many houses have flags. A few in particular have an American flag, underneath which is a “F&ck Biden” flag. I gotta be honest. That irks me. I had to reflect on it for awhile to come to a non-partisan rationale as to why it irks me.
I am the granddaughter of a World War II veteran. I am the daughter of a Vietnam veteran. My Dad also served in Utah as one of the first homeland security details for the Winter Olympics. My Dad was an epic patriot. And it was one area in life we never fought about. I respected, and still do after his death, his love of his country. One of the most meaningful moments at his funeral were three of his former Army friends showing up in dress uniform and seeking me out of the crowd. Saluting me. Asking me politely what happened to their friend and their utter dismay at finding out my Dad at the very end made it clear he did not want a military funeral.
I’m still unclear why my Dad declined what he was entitled to with more than half his life given to the military. His feelings toward the military were complicated by the men he lost in Vietnam, the men who died for him to live, and later on they were further complicated by his understanding of Agent Orange and how that impacted his health until the day he died.
My grandpa and my Dad both kept quiet about their service but they did not ever hide their pride in their service and in their country. I grew up watching them march in our Memorial Day parades. Attending military ceremonies whenever my Dad would be promoted. I visited armories with him throughout the state over my childhood and it was a normal occurrence for me to be around men and women in fatigues. When I went to work with my Dad some times I remember sitting in armories and chatting with soldiers.
When I married a woman nothing about my relationship with my Dad changed. Nothing about my relationship with the American flag changed either. I was raised to be proud of the service of my family members. My Dad served under many Presidents he disagreed with in terms of rhetoric but we did not disrespect a President in front of my Dad. We could disagree with policy and opinions but if I ever said F&*$ Bush my Dad would have slapped me in the back of my head. Because he got that even if we disagree with policy he is still the President and he is deserving of the respect of that office.
2016 changed my Dad. He was still with it enough to know that this was bad. I think that also contributed to his decision to not pursue a military funeral. He had never come against some one who disrespected the office of the President as much as he felt it was disrespected during that administration. But I still would never have used the F word in the same room as my Dad in regards to the President. No matter how much we may agree that administration was not okay. We still had some level of respect and decorum for the office.
When I drive by a flag that has the F word on it (and I swear a lot. So if it bothers me it’s bad) that not only names our current President but also is touching the American flag. Every atom of my being rebels. I feel like my Dad and Grandpa are turning in their graves. Because how disrespectful is that to our flag, our nation, their service, and the office of the President of the United States of America. That is not patriotism. That is hateful and overt disrespect to every veteran, every active service member, and every person who has held the office of the President.
After I had this heated discussion in my head about how and why this was bad, I thought well their response could be they feel the same about seeing the Pride flag with an American flag. That was a head scratcher for me. I can say that, I hear you. I get that. BUT, at the same time- the Pride flag does not disrespect the office of the President. The Pride flag creates safety and perhaps can start to acknowledge and thank all the Queer servicemen and women who have served our country just as proudly and bravely as my Dad and Grandpa. It also doesn’t place the F word in line with our flag. Our flag is a symbol of unity. To have its counterpart say F our President sews divide. It literally does the opposite of what we are supposed to feel when we see our flag.
Somehow “Patriots” have become these neo-nazi homophobic, anti-semitic people like “Proud Boys” who spew hate and division. Well I won’t live in fear of our flag. I am proud of the American flag and I challenge any one flying anything so disrespectful as F Biden next to our flag to remember our veterans. Remember the men and women who served and died under our flag. Because I remember my Dad and his pride in our country and our flag and I urge you to take the parties and politics out of our flag because all Americans are united under one flag whether we like it or not.
And listen, I may disagree with what you do and say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to do it and say it. But in this case, I’m going to call out general bad form; and hope that you can open your eyes to maybe taking things a step too far. Maybe disrespecting the American flag is actually not patriotic but in fact insulting to many fellow Americans.
Irked In Rural America