I found an American flag on the subway platform today. It’d fallen or been tossed, walked on by all sorts of fucking people. It was small, a bandanna most likely. It was dirty and as I picked it up I got the feeling that it was someone’s headband.
I’m weird about the flag. On one hand, as a self-professed “old punk rock kid,” the flag to me signifies machismo, war, jingoism, rednecks, and all sorts of uncomfortable implications about behavior and patriotism and whatnot.
On the other hand, as a former Boy Scout for years before I gave up, the flag is a symbol of the United States of America, and of love and pride and respect for my country that allows me to drink beer and watch horror movies.
On the third hand, the bionic alien one I grew out of my ass, it means…nothing. And not that the flag is something to be disrespect, like “oh hey fuck your mother, you stupid piece of fabric”. It’s just that to me, a flag is both a really complicated thing, but at the same time a really simple thing. It’s complicated in that it embodies so much about a people and a nation within some cloth and stitches with colors and shit in it. It’s incredibly powerful but, at the same time, it’s just fabric. It’s cloth, it’s not the culmination of an entire country or population or ideology. So the fact that the American flag is at times such a fetishized item, it blows my mind a bit, but at the same time I really really like being an American, and there are aspects of this country’s history and politics and culture that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Except maybe mad ninja skills, but I’m not totally 100% on that.
The proper way to destroy an American flag according to the United States Flag Code is that once it’s too destroyed to fly, you have to burn it. Technically a member of an “outstanding” American organization like the Boy Scouts or the Army and shit has to do it and usually on Flag Day in June, but whatever.
I put the flag in the trash after I folded it up a bit, and made my way to my connecting train. They burn subway garbage. Figured in my own weird way it’s the least I could do. It was sweaty and stuff when I picked it up, wasn’t too sure I wanted to be handling it too much.