the dissident frogman

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A comment by SAHMmy on Better alternatives to flag burning

2 days after the election, I hung my biggest flag upside down all day long.  Some neighbors who knew me asked why so I told them.  Right before I was about to take it down and bring inside because daylight was fading, my doorbell rang.  I opened the door and saw a woman from the neighborhood, I don’t know her name but I think I’ve seen her at a few HOA meetings.  She said she noticed that my flag was flying upside down and she asked why.  I told her it was a political protest against the results of the election.  She asked if I knew what an upside down flag indicated, and I explained that I did indeed, that the country is in distress.  She said it means that you are having an emergency, that someone in your home is in need of emergency assistance.  I said that yes, historically that was the use of displaying an upside down flag.  She then asked, “Is there someone in your home who needs assistance?”  I smirked and said, “Now, it’s 2012.  You know if that were the case I would pick up the phone and dial 911.

She said well I think you should know that for military members and their families, it is disrespectful to use the flag that way if you are not personally in need of assistance.  They fight and die under that flag and it is extremely disrespectful to display it upside down for a purpose it was not intended.  And I said Well the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that it is constitutional and acceptable, due to it’s iconic status, to use it as a form of political speech.  She said that she wished I would re-consider because of how it made military members and their family feel disrespected.  I said I would take it under advisement.  She was very polite and sincere, I was very polite and firm.

As the sun was going down and I did not have any outdoor lights to illuminate it, I went outside and started to take it down, as I’d planned anyway.  She was still outside but talking to my neighbor (a generally unfriendly and scowlly kind of guy since he moved in) who is a Navy veteran.  She saw me take it down and thanked me profusely, and I smiled and said I had to take it down anyway because of nightfall.

But I was shaken.  Very shaken.  It never occured to me that any soldier who saw my upside down U.S. FLAG,  TWO days after a disasterous election would not UNDERSTAND what I was saying by that action.  I almost did not believe it.  I called my BIL who is retired Navy and asked him, as hypothetically as I could, and he said he would find it disrespectful.  I would no sooner disrespect the U.S. Military than I would throw a baby off a building.  ANY time I see a man or woman in uniform, I immediately make a bee-line towards them with my hand extended to personally thank them for their service.  I spoke to several retired military I know online and asked them and they said they would not like it but they completely understand and agree with the meaning behind it.

I had planned to display it upside down until the desire to do so left me, but I did not put it up upside down after that.  There are many, many forms of political speech from which to make our thoughts and feelings known that do NOT cause offense or make a military member feel disrespected.  I know that there are veterans all over the country who have displayed the flag in such a manner for the very same reason.  I know that there are thousands and thousands of people all over the country doing the very same thing I did.  I did not know that it would pain the military in the least, and just wanted to tell my story so that others out there might want to take this under consideration.

That’s my 2 cents.