Almost 40 years ago now, I served in the United States Army. It was a daily occurrence to salute the American Flag, Old Glory, or the Stars and Stripes if you prefer. In those days, and even in the not that distant past, the American Flag stood for something good, something proud, and was the symbol of that mythical shining city of freedom up on the hill.
Our flag WAS a symbol of freedom. It welcomed peoples from all over our planet to our shores. it beckoned to them as a sign that under its shade they would kind find freedom and opportunity, in a country young and bold. A Country that would have many a growing pain, but the chance to grow with it and help it achieve even greater heights was there to be taken.
The flag of my youth is no more. It is now waved in crowds of intolerant, isolationist, bigoted, and greedy self serving cultish louts who, while I still consider them my siblings as beneficiaries of our American freedoms, they are not the guardians of those same freedoms that previous generations sacrificed so much to protect. These "prodigal children" of our American family are recklessly endangering our Democracy with their allegiance to a false prophet presently in leadership. Watching them wave the same flag that was raised on Iwo Jima, and Omaha Beach on Normandy makes me sick to my stomach.
The flag of before protected the weak, welcomed the homeless, and was the standard bearer for an American People that were always willing to help the rest of the World. The flag of Nazi Germany featured the symbol of the Swastika. It is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon in the cultures of Eurasia. It is still used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Yet because of the Nazi regime, the rest of the world sees it as a reminder of the brutal Nazi Fascist government it represented.
Could that legacy befall our beloved Stars and Stripes? Could future generations see our flag, and only remember America as Trump and his enablers are trying to permanently remake it? A Nation of hate and selfishness, where there is no kindness or empathy, only scorn and disdain for those seen as below those in power and their acolytes?
The first Tuesday in November 2020 may be the last chance for American citizens to exercise their voice and stop the insidious, internal, and slow assault on our personal freedoms and the destruction of America's stature on this Earth. I believe that most Americans are better than this. I believe that like Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" that rose up to engage the Great Depression and mobilized to defeat Fascism in World War Two, We have it within us to overcome the pandemic and put down the rise of hate on our shores.
If we don't, Old Glory will be just a footnote in history centuries from now, another symbol of what happens when a society succumbs to the temptation of its lesser demons, instead of striving to follow the possibilities of its better angels.