Commentary: Anne Arundel flies many flags, Just one represents all of us
I was doing delivery the other day in a side street of Riviera Beach. I admired how close the neighborhood was to the water. Maybe a bit envious. Black and white cars lining an American street, It seems to me America’s carscape was a bit more colorful in the past, but I digress...it was the black and white Stars and Stripes that really took me by surprise. My visceral reaction was a prick of pain, to see Old Glory drained of her color except for a single blue stripe in the middle. My first impression was one that it was a sign of disrespect. On the way to my next delivery I called my sis to see if there was a meaning of this unusual banner. It turns out, some say this ‘thin-blue line’ flag represents support of law enforcement. Other say it has been associated with white supremacy. The flag had me scratching my head enough, so that I took a photo. I have to say I support law enforcement. I also support Black Lives Matter. I don’t feel instinctively very enthusiastic about a star spangled banner drained of all its color, except for a thin blue line solely representing American police. My brother was a cop for 40 years. Retired after 20, couldn’t stand retirement, so he went back to the academy at 40 years old to do another 20 years on patrol. As far as I know Old Glory has always been good enough for him. I agree. I have an aversion to simple answers. In my experience there aren’t many simple answers in life, if you’re being honest with yourself. Some of our country has gone to seeing things in monochrome. Its not working out very well. The deep, rich, blend of red, white and blue has always been dear to my heart. I never served in the military or law enforcement. I’ve worked on and off 30 years trying to get the facts to my neighbors of what’s going on in the world. Sometimes I screw it up, usually I get it right, once in a while a good piece will stand out. My family did serve. My Dad was a Marine, I had a great-great uncle who was a teen-aged machine gunner in the American Army, only to be killed in action in the Argonne Forest. They both put it all on the line for the red white and blue. It was good enough for them. It’s good enough for me yet. Those colors mean something dear to me. They have no official meaning, but their traditional American meaning, is something I value at the core of who I am: red as representing hardiness and valor; the white, purity and innocence; and the blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice. The true meaning of those virtues is not in their rhetorical value. It’s in the struggle to honestly apply them to life. Try, fail, try again, succeed a little more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I try to put God and family before country in my life. Before America became the United States, the character of those who called it home, made them good and worthwhile enough to form a union was already manifested in the as human beings.. They had regard for a benevolent Creator and love for their families and neighbors. It took them far. We haven’t done right by each other on many occasions—slavery, trails of tears, the freedom to kill our fellow man, woman and child, has too often taken root in the hearts of Americans. But if there is glory yet in America, it is a reflection of the virtue and blessings the Creator endowed us with. For me there is only one flag. It has been the mirror for those unifying ideals that we’ve too often fallen short of. For today, we live under one flag that allows us the freedom to put whatever damn flag we want to on our porch. But we’d be wise to remember that the same virtues aren’t represented in the thin-blue line flag or the stars and bars. If we pledge allegiance to those flags first, would we be able to put Old Glory up on our porch as a demonstration of our liberty? My guess is no. The Stars and Bars was tolerated as a sign of Southern nostalgia and recognition of the sacrifice of the citizens of the Confederacy during my younger years. The Confederacy died 155 years ago with the men and women who died for it. Growing up, as a white middle-class kid, I considered seeing it flying part of the mystique of driving south of the Mason Dixon line. A kind of living history exhibit. That was before I had African American friends. And two work supervisors who were African American that I looked up to and loved working under. For them the living history of the Confederacy brings no nostalgia, just a reminder of a denial of God-given rights, and subjugation by their fellow Americans. From poetry of the time, many Northerners seemed to regard the Southern secession as a traitorous act, even if many northerners were also racist—no nostalgia there. The Civil War was a shitty time all around. It really was weird that it took until now for many Americans to realize that there was something seriously wrong with tolerating that nostalgia. And some don’t yet. But most do realize the Confederacy was a failed experiment, and a very malicious one at that. That malice lives on in the perverse ideology of white supremacy and should be thwarted at every flash-point, illuminated in every shadowy corner it tries to retreat to. My personal toleration to the Confederate flag wasn’t out of malice back then, It was out of a naive ignorance. I’m not a pure lily of racial harmony myself. I have had racist trains of thought at times, but I’ve regretted them and sought to see them evaporate in the truth. I’ve looked at neighbors who looked or though different than me by imprisoning them in my mind with the ignorance of stereotyping. Those incidents aren’t acceptable to me. They’re failings. We need more respect, both for ourselves, and each other. Old Glory is not black and white, nor the stars and bars. Black and white cannot truly express the life of any human being in my experience. It’s a hell of a lot easier to consign yourself to a black and white mentality though, which is maybe why a lot of us have chosen that path. Some are attracted to the extremes these days, or that’s what mainstream media would have you believe. According to them, conservative examples of rigid myopic ignorance or absurd liberal political correctness rule today. Don’t believe all the hype, or at least strive to put it into a more realistic context than much media prescribes. Human beings are made by their Creator of intricate, incomprehensible stuff. Perhaps some of us might live simpler than others, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t deep. We can’t be boiled down to black and white. We can only be fooled into thinking that we can be. The American melting pot has over 300-million ingredients, all of us one-of-a-kind. Each of us never to pass this way again. While I’m passing through on this American trail of mine, I chose to fly Old Glory out front of my house. She’s the one banner that allows for all the others. Whatever other flag Americans choose to fly, I hope they’ll always choose to unfurl Old Glory in their homes and in their hearts.