American flag here. Listen, we need to talk.
We used to be friends, remember? When you were little, you would wave me about during fireworks. I was always blowing around from the back of your parent’s boat on the Mississippi River. And you said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school. We were practically BFFs.
You even drew me in marker on poster-board that time when you went to see Ronald Reagan. I mean, it wasn’t a great picture—the stripes were uneven and the stars were awkward—but you were only 10. I didn’t mind.
In high school, we were extra close. You saluted me at every basketball game. Every football game. You even did that silly 1-2-3 salute-clap cheerleader thing. So cheesy, but I loved the attention.
Then there was that t-shirt about an American Summer. You know the one.
You grew up on country music, and God knows country music loves me. So we had that going for us, too.
Over the years, you forgot about me. But everyone does. I’m used to it.
When you joined the Peace Corps, we got all cozy again. I mean, I’m part of their logo, after all. I clung to pins and paperwork and canvas bags. You couldn’t escape.
There were “the years of confusion.”
You returned stateside after almost three years abroad and clearly appreciated your home country. And yet, I spent that next American birthday curled up in the corner of your not-always-so-dry basement.
You became friends with people who thought it was wrong to fly me at all. People who thought I was an arrogant show-off. People who thought I represented hate against other countries.
I never meant for it to be this way. I’m really not that kind of a flag! I even consider myself inclusive!
And anyway, is it so wrong to have a flag? Is it so wrong to be a joiner? To be part of a bigger whole? A team? To be proud of where you’re from?
But then it happened. The big zinger. You sent your daughter to a school that doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. I mean, I know you have a lot of factors to consider in education. Still, it was a punch in the stomach.
Now you’re chanting about democracy at rallies on a weekly basis. And I’m all tangled up in Trump’s image. I could really use a friend.
So maybe there’s still hope for us.
But I have to wonder, would you fly me if I asked you to?
The American Flag
Author: Andrea Enright
Image: Flickr/Abe Navoy
Editor: Travis May