As relatively staunch conservatives (we are moderates in some respects) in one of the most liberal states in America, my husband and I have spent nearly two decades keeping our opinions to ourselves so as to not make waves. Even before our country began its present slide toward dystopian catastrophe, we chose not to speak out because would never want to offend or devalue our friends. The one thing that has now moved us to protest — although in a passive manner– has been the attack on patriotism, national pride and the flag that is so pervasive today. I have always been incredibly patriotic and part of that comes from my family history – I am related to William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison (9th and 23rd presidents respectively) and have relatives who served in the military going back to the Civil War (on both sides). My father-in-law served in the Army in Vietnam (he was drafted) and his uncle died at Inchon, arguably the worst battle of the Korean War. My cousin, Harrison, retired from the Air Force and now is a ROTC commander at a high school in North Carolina, and my best friend’s husband is a former Marine. My husband grew up in northern Virginia and went to a high school where many of the students and teachers had loved ones who fought in the first Gulf War; his first girlfriend’s father was a Navy SeAL. You get the picture.
Beyond that, though, what’s wrong with being proud to be an American? We were a ragtag bunch of colonists who stuck it to the most powerful country on earth because we believed in freedom — freedom to think, speak and act as we wished without fear of governmental reprisal, freedom to pursue or dreams and the freedom to make of ourselves whatever we wish. That is what the flag represents, what its colors mean, and every time I hear our national anthem, I feel a sense of pride. Were we then and are we now perfect? Of course not! Every human being is flawed, but when I think of how blessed I am to live in a country where I can be who I am without worrying about governmental, theocratic or familial retribution, I love my country even more.
I mentioned passive protest – what did my husband and I do? We took a walk around downtown Amherst wearing matching “I Stand” flag t-shirts. We didn’t get in anyone’s face or tell anyone we voted for President Trump. We just walked and talked about all kinds of random stuff while taking in people’s reactions to us. Some people rolled their eyes, some just stared, mouths agape when forced to acknowledge that their precious socialist enclave had been invaded by evil white supremacist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic (did I get all the -ists and -phobics in there?) demons. It was funny and probably the best time we’ve ever had downtown. At first, I was nervous and felt like I was doing something wrong, but I got over it when I realized that I have every right to express my feelings as long as I’m not hurting anyone or destroying property. Nobody has the right to not be offended and nobody has the right to be agreed with or even heard. This was the first time I ever did anything like this but I’m sure it won’t be my last. God Bless America!