Our View: The flag that binds us
Wednesday is Inauguration Day for President-elect Joe Biden. For some, it’s a day to rejoice. For others, it’s a day to rue. It’s hard to see how our hyperpartisan country can ever heal from such a bitter election season and aftermath.
The divide in our country hits us all personally. During a trip to the grocery store, do you find yourself sorting people into “Us” and “Them” tribes? The guy wearing a Thin Blue Line shirt must be MAGA and the guy carrying an RBG bag must be liberal.
One is a friend, the other is a foe, according to tribe politics. Those assumptions may or may not be correct, but honestly, there is really just one thing you can reasonably assume about those shoppers: Chances are they’re your neighbors.
That’s where we need to start.
Here’s a story we heard this week. A local woman told us that she was planning to fly her American flag in celebration of Biden’s inauguration, but now she doesn’t think she will. Her reasoning? During the storming of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, so many of the rioters were waving American flags. Those American flags were waved alongside Confederate flags, Kekistan flags and other symbols popular among extremist and white supremacist groups. She now sees the flag as a tainted symbol associated with seditionists.
The spirit of American flag — the Star Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Frances Scott Key during the War of 1812 — is bigger than those small people. In all honesty, at times the flag is nothing more than a piece of fabric that’s lifted in ceremony, burned in protest and stitched into clothing design. At others, it is a powerful symbol raised on Iwo Jima or the surface of the moon.
The American flag is like the country it honors — sometimes noble, sometimes ugly. It has been flown as citizens were freed and it has been flown when citizens were oppressed. Sometimes it’s a loud statement and sometimes it’s a subtle one. It covers a whole spectrum of American ideals and it absolutely does not belong to one end of the political spectrum more than the other. Our flag rightly draped the caskets of both Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.
Today, we urge everyone to fly an American flag. It’s a small gesture, yes, but not insignificant. If we can do this very small thing in unity, it makes it harder to divide neighbors into fighting tribes.
And we urge everyone to think on these words, uttered by Abraham Lincoln, during a time of the nation’s greatest division.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Fly our flag to celebrate that.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.