Letter: What does the flag mean?

What does the flag mean?

We all view the flag differently. We see it and understand its meaning viewed through the lens of our experience and learning. New generations see things differently than those before. This is natural. But what happens when the behavior of the people is determined and directed by changing the meaning itself?

Imagine two high school classrooms, one in 1943 and the other in 2017. Each classroom is asked, “Would you fight and die for this?” as a large American Flag is revealed to the students. Consider for a minute what the response might be.

Ask the same question every year between. Logically, the Stars and Stripes would have different meanings to those living in different times. But what would happen if the flag’s real meaning were redirected?

Question: Is the flag the symbol of our collective cultures living at peace within our national border, or is it a symbol of the “structure” of our representative government. Is it the symbol of We, Us, You and Me, or a symbol of our government? Well, of course you’d say it’s not a symbol of our government but rather of our entire people. Why then have we allowed the true meaning to be high-jacked by those who see the power of changing definitions and meanings? Confused?

No problem. Let’s look at this through the eyes of an NFL player who refuses to stand in respect to the flag.

What does the flag mean to that player? I imagine it means something far differently than what it means to the soldier who returned to us without legs.

Likewise with the high school class of 1943. Those kids were taught that it was a patriotic thing to fight for the flag because they understood that the flag represented them all, standing together for liberty, free and sometimes quarrelsome yet united in body, soul, and spirit, and One Nation under God. Yes, they went to war willing to die for it. “They were taught!”

What then are our children being taught about what is the true meaning of the flag? Our children are being taught that the flag is a symbol of government. Ever since WWII, the flag’s meaning has been increasingly changed to represent government, and, by default, all that is wrong with it.

So what happens when the flag is misrepresented as a symbol of all that is wrong with the Washington, D.C. regime? And who taught the children to think this way? Kids do grow up … and all that we put in them will show up.

Witness to what I’m saying here. Let’s examine again our NFL star. “So, to you my football-star-friend,” I’d say, “it’s no wonder you refuse to stand, but don’t protest the flag, protest instead those who captured your mind and made you to think that the flag represents the government. No wonder you’re angry, but angrier still you should be when you realize that by disrespecting the flag, you disrespect yourself, your identity group, the people everywhere, and the idea that we can, and must, work together as Americans.”

So, get up off your knee, NFL protester. The flag doesn’t stand for the government. Stand up proudly because it represents We the People, and that means you too!

You want respect? You gotta give it to get it.

Norm Olson