I admit I'm a patriotic geek. I love the rituals surrounding the Fourth of July and, in Utah, Pioneer Day on July 24. I'm a sucker for a parade, I cry at taps, I get goose bumps at flyovers. And I fly the flag.
Right now, I have small ones outside my front door and all around our balcony. My office has miniature flags stuck in pots for the month of July.
If you drive by our home, you might think that I represent an extreme political party or ideal, like the poor farmer who painted a flag on an old truck and then parked it at the entrance to his land. He sells organic produce but noticed after posting the flag art, his sales dropped off. He realized his patrons thought he was a Trumper, and they didn't want to buy veggies from him anymore. He wasn't a fan of Trump, and he's sad that just posting our flag labels him as something he is not.
Locally, on July Fourth, Lex Scott, leader of Black Lives Matter Utah, put this post on Facebook: "When we Black Americans see this flag, we know the person flying it is not safe to be around. When we see this flag, we know the person flying it is a racist. ... When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred."
Immediately after posting those comments, Scott got far more death threats than usual. Soon after, Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Utah State Conference, posted this: "The NAACP does not agree with that statement and rejects the idea that flying the American flag is a racist message."
Well, hells bells! As Americans, we all have the right to our opinions without fearing imprisonment. I'm aghast that people used flagpoles carrying our flags to injure others during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
I wasn't arrested when I burned the flag in protest during an Act Up/AIDS protest, because I have that freedom under this flag. I don't see myself as a racist, but I'm willing to admit I'm not fully culturally aware and am willing to learn how to be a better person and respect others.
There is usually a small golden "finial" ball atop a stationary flagpole. Legend has it that inside that ball, you'll find (not kidding) a razor blade, a match and a bullet. The blade is to be used to cut the stars and stripes from the flag, the match to burn the remains and the bullet to defend the base or shoot yourself if you are the only person left when the world spirals into war and armies invade America.
I see the flag differently now that my grandson is a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army. I would, as he would, defend our flag for all of us regardless of anyone's political beliefs. Happy July 24th—fly your flags high for freedom!