Many young people say they are not patriotic. It’s an important issue as we celebrate Flag Day on June 14. I want to say to these young adults: patriotism does not mean you condone our nation’s most troubling chapters.
The American flag represents many things to different people. For some, it represents oppression and a dark past from whose grip our nation has not yet escaped. For others, like me, it represents the sacrifice of countless individuals, who, while realizing the country was not perfect, fought to uphold the values that allow us to change and become better as a nation and society. It truly represents hope and the future.
I realize our nation is not perfect, but the flag represents the aspirations of millions of people who wanted to create a better world. So far, even with all of our problems, America is the very best iteration of those aspirations in all of world history.
We have still not arrived at the utopian goals that many dream of. We never will. Why? Because societies and nations are created by imperfect individuals. Utopian societies do not, and cannot exist. But everyone can still try to make it better. And in our imperfect union, you can fly or not fly the American flag without fear of retribution.
Ironically, that, too, is what the flag represents. Personal liberty. Unlike North Korea, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, et al, you are not forced to be patriotic. In America, you are free to make the choice.
If you are one of the many young adults who believe you cannot be proud of our flag because of our nation’s past, I encourage you to invest in it the symbolism of your own hopes and aspirations for the future–your future. That, too, is patriotism.
Yes, you can fly our flag.
-Dwight Widaman | Editor