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Being fiercely proud South African, I can tell you that when you no longer see it all the time (like me living in the States), you DO become proud of the flag. I managed to catch a Rugby game on TV a while ago - It was a International match where the National Anthems of the Countries get played, and the tears were streaming down my cheeks when I saw the Flag and heard the National Anthem. I am however starting to feel the same whenever I hear the US National Anthem being played. I think I may soon be a fiercely loyal part South African part American!


I think that the amount of emotion connected with one's country's flag might be related to how "invested" you are in your country.

For instance... where we live is very much a military city (with electronic and medical stuff thrown in, for good measure). The folks around here seem, perhaps, more patriotic than those in non-military cities. My guess is that so many of our neighbors have committed their lives to supporting/defending our country.

As for my family, I guess I'd have to say that we are "moderately patriotic." Our national anthems, etc. get me more emotional than just seeing the flag - because I hear the words written by those who created our country and died to preserve it.

By the way, is there symbolism to how your flag is designed, Tertia? I'd love to know the meaning behind the colors/pattern.

I am very proudly Canadian, and the flag does make me proud and patriotic, mainly because... well, the flag represents my country, which I am proud of (but not so proud about having a conservative government, but that's a whole other topic). The flag just makes me think of my country, and I'm proud to be from here.

It's not the fact that it's a flag that makes me proud, it's the symbol behind it - Canada. The same as the colors red and white make me proud, or hockey, or any other symbol that represents Canada.

Except beavers. That's just weird.

American here, and I don't really feel anything for the flag. It's a nice flag, but... and? I dunno, I just have no emotional response to it at all. To be fair, I was raised in Canada, and I love Canada very much and miss it, but I don't feel anything for the Canadian flag, either. Pretty, yes. Symbolic of anything other than something pretty? Not to me.

You're right. Some Americans are fiercely patriotic with the emphasis on the Fierce. I recently made the observation that the flag sometimes can elicit a negative response in me (long, unrelated story) and I was told if I didn't like living in the U.S. to "fucking leave." I don't know how my opinion of a piece of fabric conveyed to them that I was unpatriotic or didn't like living here, but that's where they went with it. It's just that I don't believe one's level of patriotism shouldn't be wrapped up in a piece of fabric. These types of symbolisms are temporary; it's what's in your heart that cannot be burned, folded away or ripped to shreds by storms.

Wow. Great question! You actually made me stop working to think about this. As an introduction and to answer your specific questions: I'm from the US. I fly the American Flag outside my home on a few dates (July 4, September 11, etc.). I am fiercely passionate about the flag for a number of reasons and I almost always get all teary when the flag is raised with the National Anthem playing. Ruins my G&D mascara. Gah.

Anyway. In thinking of why some Americans are so stinkin' gung-ho about our flag, I really came to no conclusions other than our National Anthem is an ode to our flag so maybe our flag "worshipping" is just a reflection of that. I also think that "being an American" is a very individualized concept. Meaning it means something different to everybody. The flag means a lot to me, as I'm sure it does to my neighbor, but we probably don't have the same rationale behind such feelings. Damn individualists. Heh.

So why do I feel so strongly about the American Flag? To me, it symbolizes all the freedom we have here. The freedom to burn the flag, disagree with the government, and speak our minds...

When I see the flag, I'm saluting our Founding Fathers, not that piece of red, white and blue material. I'm saluting the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, etc. The IDEA of this country is what is so special to me.

Anyway. You get the idea. :)

No, I don't have any strong feelings about my country's flag (Sweden, BTW). I am very fond of my country and although I feel we have our share of problems I wouldn't really consider living anywhere else. But the flag and the national anthem and the king (yes we have one, and a queen too) don't do it for me.

In my opinion, Sweden has undergone a significant change in the last couple of decades. When I grew up in the 70's , we were taught that we lived in a haven from oppression and in a society of optimal social welfare. With these feelings also came a somewhat snottish attitude, we were the goody-goodies of the world and looked upon other countries with a bit of pity and sometimes even disdain. This has changed. Swedes have learned that we are not so much luckier than other countries. Several of the other EU countries have much better social welfare programs, for instance. And it was just our luck that we weren't invaded by the Germans during WW2 like our neighbor Norway. Modern Swedish history would have been way different.

At this time, we were also taught that fierce patriotism is more evil than good. I must say that I still have this feeling. I prefer internationalism to patriotism. Although I think USA is a great country in many ways, the patriotism that some Americans display scares me a little.

The transition from apartheid to democracy in SA has been absolutely amazing and you are rightly proud of it.

I've never been particularly attached to our flag (I'm American), but I have historically been mildly fond of it. It represents a groovy experiment that has somehow managed to work (not perfectly, and with ups and downs, of course) for 200+ years. As Shannon says, "To me, it symbolizes all the freedom we have here. The freedom to burn the flag, disagree with the government, and speak our minds... "

So why did I answer "ashamed" to your poll? Because you didn't offer the answer I really wanted, and that was the closest choice. What I would have said was "Pissed off." The flag now pisses me off because it's been co-opted by a political group who do not seem to believe at all in the freedom the flag stands for. They want me to stop thinking for myself and keep my stinkin' mouth shut. Because the flag now evokes that, it really gets my knickers in a twist.

(**bracing now for hate mail for saying this**)

here in switzerland flags are flown all over the place. not just swiss flags, mind you, every canton, city, town and tiny mountain village has it's own flag and crest and you see them all over the place. i think it's mainly to please the tourists..

i enjoy seeing our flag mainly when i'm in another country. reminds me of home and of friendly patriotism. most swiss don't feel fiercly proud of their country at all, they just simply think it's a great country (the best, actually) and wouldn't consider moving out of their home town much less out of switzerland. (helga, by the way, you were totaly missinformed in the 70's. switzerland, not sweden, is the most heavenly place to live in. unlike you, most swiss still believe this to be true..)

the national anthem in switzerland also makes people smile, while they admit, a little ashamedly, that they know the first two lines of the first verse. it's never sung except by important people on tv on our national day, though i hear the boys do have to learn it in the army. i think most people recognize it and it's become a bit of a national joke that no-one knows it.

in light of this, many swiss find the fierce american proudness of flag and anthem quite disturbing. and very overdone. to me fierce patriotism usually comes across as someone trying really hard to make themselves and others believe their country is great. but i think it's really just a cultural difference based on how we grow up.

I'm American but my children are dual citizens, American/British. I'm proud to be American, but flag waving isn't a part of my life. Most of the flags you see here are owned by either very conservative families who are on the right side of republicanism, or have a child in the service stationed overseas in some ridiculous war that we don't need to be in.

When 9/11 happened, I bought a flag for the first time, and yes, I did fly it. I usually put it up on July 4th (independance day) and Memorial Day and Labor Day. Otherwise, nope, I'm not big on flying the flag.

It is not for the flag's sake that we honor it, but for those who have sacrificed to defend it.

~United States

I answered twice in your poll because being British and Scottish, I have three flags and I feel differently about each of them. The Union Flag doesn't really do anything for me, it's nice enough and I am proud to be British (most of the time) but I don't get emotional about the flag. The two Scottish flags however do cause a more emotional response, possibly because I currently live in England and I do miss Scotland. Scotland has two flags - the Rampart Lion (strictly speaking this should only be used by the Queen but is widely used as a second national flag) and the more recognisable St Andrews Cross or Saltire, which is one of the world's oldest flags dating from at least the 12th Century. I don't really get teary about them but I do respond to them more than to the Union Flag.

As for national anthems, again the British National Anthem doesn't do it for me but any of the unofficial Scottish ones - Oh Flower of Scotland or Scotland The Brave or Scots Wha' Hae - make me choke up. Oh, and so do the pipes, anything played well on the bagpipes can have me in tears instantly.

You know, for a small country, we seem remarkably indecisive about our flags and anthems. Either that or we're greedy and want more than one of everything!

Incidentally, have you ever seen Eddie Izzard's skit on flags? It always makes me laugh.

Hmm, difficult question. I am German/British - my parents are German. My British nationality is the result of my delivery in London where my parents happened to live at that time. My mother actually taught me to be ashamed of being German. When we were in foreign countries, she told me to speak quietly so people would not notice we are German. She was the first to tell me about the Holocaust. I was very small at that time. So there is absolutely no patriotism in my heart. I have come to appreciate small things that are specifically German - when I lived in the States for 5 years. When I see our flag, I do recognize it - but I am not proud of it.

I am from the US and the flag does mean a lot to me. But rather than standing for the freedom in this country... To me, it is more about the people who have fought for our freedom, for our right to a fair life... It stands for my husband and every other man and woman who is in the US military and knows when they join the military that they may die for this country.

We're sort of forced to respect the flag in this country. A big deal is always made out of it. One hangs in every classroom and students are expected to stand and recite the pledge in the mornings. On military installations there is somewhere where the flag is raised every morning and taken down every evening, and TAPS are played on a trumpet, and everyone who can hear it is expected to stop what they're doing and stay quiet. The special folding of the flag is involved in those ceremonies. There are so many ways that the flag is involved in life in this country... I had never really thought about that before.

I had to think about this one for a bit. I am an American and grew up around US Naval bases as my dad was in the Navy. I saw the pomp and circumstance surrounding the care given to the flag. It doesn't matter who the President of the US is or whether I agree with the policies of the incumbent government, I give the flag and what it represents my utmost respect. I cry at the National Anthem even when I go to baseball games. My husband teases me about that everytime, but I can't help it. I just get overcome with emotion.

Another crier in the U.S. here... i cry at ballgames when they play the national anthem. I am not a flag-waver, but, after 9/11 i wanted to display one on my car to demonstrate my patriotism, but, didn't b/c i they were everywhere at that time anyway.
I am extremely proud of what the flag stands for. Our flag represents our dedication to democratic ideals and freedoms.
Would fly a flag on national holidays if i had a house to attach it to.

Aussie here and no, I don't have any great emotional investment in our flag. I feel lucky to live in Australia and lucky that our history has been relatively peaceful, but I really don't understand the concept of dying for or defending a 'flag'. I understand that it is a symbol, but I feel that in that case we should instead talk about the actual people or values that are worth defending - could minimise some of the mindless jingoism.

I am not usually a sentimental person, but quite often, my national flag (US) does invoke a certain feeling of sentimentality. Especially now with friends overseas fighting, regardless of what I think about us being over there, those guys can't help it, and when I look at our flag, I think of them. I think of EVERYONE who has made our country what it is...the meaning behind our nation's flag - why the stars, why the stripes?

I will admit, though, that when I'm at a ball game and we get up to sing the national anthem, it is the song that gets me, not the flag.

We don't fly our flag in front of our house, but there are about 4 in my neighborhood that do. And virtually every business has one as well. Now, come Independence Day, EVERYTHING is covered in flags, our yard included.

Well -- yes, I feel emotional about our flag (USA) because of what it stands for. The history, the people who have died to keep us free. The flag itself is just a piece of material; what it stands for is so much more.

Another American here.

When I see the US flag, I remember those like my grandfather who gave their lives for our country and others in WWII.

Of course, I don't currently *own* my own flag! But it drives me nuts when I see neighbors who leave their flags out overnight, or in rain, etc.

Overall- I think the flag is a beautiful symbol of my country.

GO Canada! :)

This one also made me stop and think.

I'm American, now American-Israeli living in Israel.

First of all, I'm with Kathy B., It's not the piece of material that I'm attached too it's what it stands for.

Growing up in the US, and even now still, I was/am very proud of the American flag. I think what the country stands for is something I think what the country sets out to embody is really a great thing, something I want to be a part of. Being emotionally connected to it is a whole other issue. I've just always felt like a minority living within America, not that I was descriminated against, I just didn't really feel like a part of it all. I just had no emotional connection to patriotism at all.

Now that I live in Israel it's almost the opposite. I feel incredibly emotionaly attached to my flag and national anthem. I don't always agree with the ideologies of the gov't (no real separation of chuch and state, etc.), but even with those things it is MY country. The flag and national anthem connect with me and my culture and my identity.

Hmm. I guess that means I'm in the right place now. Food for thought.

Oh, forgot one thing. Just to clafiry, my family is something like 5th generation American. Citizenship-wise America is all anyone in my family has ever known.

South Africa. Nope - no fond feelings towards the flag whatsoever. The national anthem is a different story - Love it, for me it represents how far our country has come in the last 12 years.

Belgium here. No feelings towards our flag, and I don't get emotional over our anthem either. Don't know anyone around me who is feeling differently. It's just a part of the whole deal 'Belgium', like a king and queen, our stamps and the drawing on one side of our coins (which are European Euro's :)).
Don't have any feelings for the European flag either, or the Flemish flag.

Australian here, and not hugely impressed with our flag. It's lacking acknowledgement of Aboriginal people, the first people who lived in the land. I don't hate it either, but I think it could do with a change.

Yet another silly American who cries at the National Anthem here. For me the flag and anthem go hand in hand with memories of my cherished late grandfather who served in two wars and was the proudest American I've ever met. His flag flew outside his house nearly every day, though NEVER at night (unless it's lit up all night it's a no no).

As pp mentioned, I also think the anthem has a part to play in our reverance for our flag -- its an ode to the flag surviving battle which always riles up crowds at ball games. Every time I hear it and see the flag raised, I tear up.

I don't own a full size flag to display outside our home but hope to get one suitable some day. And in our very liberal hood in CA, tons of people fly them for lots of reasons so I don't think it is just conservatives or families of service men and women.

Being from Northern Ireland I envy people who love there flag the way so many Americans do. I think it would be great to be able to fly a flag without it offending some one.

I suppose there are three different flags here. The Union Jack, the Irish Tricolour and the Ulster flag. But all of these are associated with poloitical 'sides' and when I am somewhere that any of these flags are flown I often feel uncomfortable.

Our politicians spent hours (weeks? years? centuries?) arguing over which flag should be flown over government buildings and at present it is mosly avoided as whichever is chosen will upset someone.

You may notice that often when Ireland play internationals the anthem is not played. Especially when we play at Twickenham. The players play for Ireland but the Irish anthem (like most)is about the defeat of an enemy. (In this case the British) and because some of the players are from Northern Ireland and may really consider themselves British it is seen as offensive to play this!!

So perhaps you can understand why I would love to be so sure and comfortable to be able to be proud of a flag? I haven't answered the poll because none of the options fit with my confused feelings

Aussie - and not very committed to the flag. Hated it as a kid because it's so hard to draw.

BTW - there was a South Africa Heritage Day braai in the centre of Sydney on Friday. They had little sausages and some sauce that had a long, funny name.

I am Portuguese and care a bit about the flag. I have one, but only use it rarely. The flag does not mean so much to me as the anthem. The anthem, whenever I hear it, I immediately feel the urge to stand up and sing it. And when I hear it sung by a lot of people (like in football/soccer games), I get misty-eyed.

Australian here. I get emotional hearing the national anthem while seeing the flag raised as we claim our gold for kicking the world's butt in olympic swimming ;)

BUT - the flag IS a bit of material. Burning it does not kill me. People who do that are just dickheads. But, that said, I am not religious but someone burning a crucifix or statue of Mary would upset me. Is that weird? Both are just objects. It's what's behind them that has meaning. And being Australian is more important to me than religion (I think I just heard a whole bunch of Christians faint, I'm so sorry). Maybe it's just that I feel defensive for those whom the religious icons DO mean the world, and maybe I feel that people who burn crosses are more sinister than teenage idiots stamping on a flag. I think I'm drunk.

Good question, I'm with you Tertia. I'm fond of our flag (although, as said above, it needs to contain some representation of the Aboriginal people) and think about how lucky I am to live here when I see it. But if my husband died (he's in the military) and I was given a flag? Um, you can have it. I have enough tablecloths, thank you. And I'd really like my husband back.

Another American responding...I do not own a flag and display it. I did wear a little flag pin this past 9/11 though. I like the visual appearance of the USA flag, and the abstract concepts it signifies. But as a previous commenter stated, lately it seems to me that in the US, if you display a flag on your home or car that you are actually just supporting our current president and the "war against terror," rather than being proud of the USA. I do not support nor understand this war; but I do support and love the American men and women who have been/are involved.

But why I wanted to post a comment, T., is that I live in the "South" of the USA; you know, in one of those states that seceded from the Union and began the American Civil War? So there is also another flag that I see flying and stuck on cars, the Confederate flag. And this flag pisses me off. Because the people who insist that this is a flag still worth displaying are often (but not always) racists. I hear arguments that the Confederate flag is merely a way of displaying pride of being a Southerner, pride of the fighting for the individual freedom of the separate states to do what they want without the federal government's interference. But I am never swayed by these arguments. All I see when I look upon the Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery.

I don't get all weepy over the American flag. Like our national anthem, the design that exists now wasn't the offical one until the 20th century. Before that, states made their own versions of the American flag, and the national anthem was "Our country tis' of thee" not "The Star Spangled Banner". I think it is just a symbol, and not the prettiest of flags, either. A lot of Americans, posters here included, equate the flag with the sacrifice of soldiers and other dead..including police officers and firefighters. Why is that? Flags in other places symbolize the greatness of the entire nation, not just sacrifice and death. We also pledge allegence to the flag, which always bugged me. Why not pledge to the constitution? that's what makes us truly free, not the flag that waves over us...Oh well.

daily flag flyer here. my husband puts out the flag each morning with our son. it really is about the history of the flag- those who fought, died, came home, didn't come home, came home with the 1000 yard stare, were never the same, went on to do great things, went on to sit on the sidewalk homeless. i connect the flag with all the documents that make us a great republic- the declaration of independence, the constitutuion, the bill of rights.

i'm also teary when our national anthem is played. but then i cry at telephone commercials too.


I loathe the American flag.

The American flag is the symbol of a country whose present government holds prisoners without charging them, without giving them access to an attorney, without letting them know the evidence against them, without providing them with due process.

The American flag stands for a government that performs extraordinary renditions so that it can torture people abroad.

The American flag stands for a government that argues that torture is permissible so long as there is a "war on terror" -- a war that has no boundaries, no defined enemy, and no end in sight.

I can't feel good about my flag until my country stops acting in ways that leave me speechless with shame.

I have to agree 100% with Victoria. I have been ashamed to be an American for a while now. Our present government is an embarassment.

I love my flag(USA)and my country. I understand what Victoria and Bridget are talking about, although I think they are being harsh. Our current government is one I'm not proud of, either. However, one of the things that makes me proud of my flag is that it represents freedom and voting is one of those freedoms. Unfortunately, Bush was voted in by the people. I love my country and I won't allow him to drag down how I feel, he will be gone soon, thank God.

If I ever have a house with a flagpole, I'll fly it. Not because I'm in love with the flag, but because to me the flag means what it did to my grandfathers--a willingness to be a good citizen, to serve other people. Leave your campsite better than you found it, etc. It's a symbol of being in it together, even when we don't like or agree with each other.

For that reason I also have no problem with people burning the flag to show their displeasure at the way they think our country is being led off the road it should be on (whether or not I agree with their assessment). I don't think buring the flag means "Die, all you Americans!" I think it means "You're screwing things up and it makes me angry!" People ought to (and still do) have the right to say that. They have the duty to say that in a United States full of good citizens. Is burning the flag in good taste? Probably not, but passionate protest rarely is.

I'm not in favor of the flag turned into garments. Do I want good citizenship rubbing up against someone's sweaty pecs? I think not.

(debi, I know the words to the Swiss national anthem. It's one of my faorite anthems melodically.)

Really interesting reading all the comments.

South African here, and for me the National Flag means everything and I love seeing it at international events. The SA national anthem though is another story, it really should only be Nkosi Sikele rather than having the apartheid's "Die Stem" added to it at the end - slightly ruins it for me. Although I love hearing it when I'm overseas, nothing like it to remind you of home.

I am an American and am very proud of being so. My husband and I fly the flag every day as does my most of my family. We fly the flag for a number of reasons, 90% of which are simply personal reasons.

I have to strongly disagree with Margalit, who said "Most of the flags you see here are owned by either very conservative families who are on the right side of republicanism, or have a child in the service stationed overseas in some ridiculous war that we don't need to be in."

This is a huge generalization of those of us who fly the flag. Just because you fly the flag does not make you a republican or a democate, it doesn't make you any thing other than a proud American. Furthermore, not everyone who flys the flag supports the war, nor do they support the current government and making statements like that makes as much sense as telling someone to just "Fucking leave" if they do not fly the flag every day.

You get Jerry Springer over there? I'm so embarrassed! I feel like you saw toilet paper trailing from my shoe (or something worse).

I am an American. I wonder if the way we feel (generally) about the flag has to do with the way it is used here (I don't know what are similarities or differences are with other countries). It is definetly used by the media, the government, the entertainment industry to invoke certain feelings. That isn't to say they aren't genuine, only that I don't know how much of our feelings about the flag are self discovered and how much is Pavlovian. Does that make sense?

Certainly draping it over the caskets of soldiers or former soldiers reminds us (usually at a very raw time) what the flag stands for and how many people die defending the values it (ideally) represents.

Again, I don't know where these feelings grew but I, personally, do get nervous when I see our flag grazing the floor or unilliminated at night. Then I will read other "rules" for the flag and they will be things I didn't even realize, and maybe even seem ridiculous. One feeling I have that I know I came up with all on my own, is the respect I have for the older generation of Americans and knowing how THEY feel about the flag makes me feel the need to respect it in order to respect them.

I pesonally feel nothing for the U.S. flag -- perhaps that`s because I spent so much of my life living overseas, and continue another country home now?

But as other commenters above have said, respecting the flag as a symbol is the same as respecting all it stands for.

And I hate to see people burning it, the way I hate people burning effigies and books! However, I don`t believe in any laws against any of the above.

I'm from the US (and wish there was another term to describe my nationality other than "American", since "America" is actually two continents and not a country) and do not, will not fly a US flag or allow any other flag-type stuff in my home. It's not that I hate the flag (actually I think that the 13 stripes for the original colonies and the 50 stars for each state is pretty cool), though like other commenters I dislike the way the flag has been co-opted as a symbol of the US war machine, it's more that I think that there are only certain appropriate uses for the flag. I think the flag should only be flown on government buildings -- schools, post offices, and so on. To fly a flag in front of my home, IMO, would imply that official business of the United States goes on inside. But what really drives me nuts is when, in the name of "patriotism", people splash the image of the flag over EVERYTHING. How, exactly, does it respect the flag to wipe your greasy mouth with a US flag paper napkin? Or to step all over it every time you wear your stars and stripes flip-flops? I have even seen US flag diaper covers, which to me scream "I love my country enough to let my kid crap on the flag!" There are supposed to be rules about how to treat the flag with respect -- don't let it touch the ground, don't let another flag fly higher than it, dispose of it properly (might actually be by burning) when it gets tattered. How does that apply to a $5 Old Navy 4th of July T-shirt?

But what's worse, as DanaB pointed out, is that people still fly the Confederate flag. Ugh. That's the flag of AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES, people. If you love your country, get that thing off the back of your pickup truck. You can recycle it into a diaper cover!

I'm writing hours after I've sent my husband off to war. I'm American and I voted that the site of Old Glory overwhelms me with emotion.

Under the blanket of that flag we have not only had the sacrifices of many soldiers, but we, as a country, have come together under her so many times to provide humanitarian efforts all over the world. From Africa to tsunami ravaged countries to our own back yard.

I lived in Germany during September 11th. Even prior to that event, military families were discouraged from flying the American flags outside their homes. (I should say we lived off the base). I respected my German neighbors and only had a few flags in the house. However, when we flew back home that November, my 4 year old daughter was beside herself with excitement by all the American flags hung all over Philadelphia Airport. I will never forget walking though customs and the sweet lady looked down at my daughter and said, "that's right-there are American flags everywhere baby, that's because you are back home!" I ofcourse cried tears of pride at that moment .

You've seen Jerry Springer? OH, NO! *hangs head in shame*

Well, yes, there are Americans like this, but most of us are rather tame, as long as we have free access to as many sweets as we want.

America's a complicated nation: big, sprawling, with many races, ethnicities and interwoven cultures. It was, and is, an experiment in freedom, and for this I'm proud. The flag represents, to me, our commitment to freedom for each individual, without regard to their race, religion or nation of origin.

Well, most of us are committed; some of us are only interested in drinking, riding on motorcycles and getting new tattoos on a regular basis.

Well said, Priscilla!

American here.

No particular feelings. It's just a piece of cloth.

I am proud of many things American (and ashamed of a few), but the flag doesn't make either list.

i just have to comment again. this is such an interesting and eye-opening conversation. Em, i definitely get what you're saying about feelings towards a flag being created by how it's used in the media and in your culture in general. from the sounds of it, in the USA the flag is a much more important symbol than in most other countries. it's also strange to me that you seem to revere not only what it stands for, but also simply the flag itself. why else would you set up rules about it. i'd never heard that you're not supposed to fly a flag in the dark, and (coming from a different culture) i think that's really funny. it's just a symbol! also the touching the ground bit. but then, the flag for us (swiss) really isn't a big deal.

i've been doing some thinking lately about the US culture and how your army features so prominently in it. from the above conversation, it sounds like the flag is all a part of this, fighting for freedom and all. here in switzerland we haven't really worried about freedom in a long time. kids don't get taught to be proud of our freedom and democracy, it's just taken for granted. so it's very interesting to hear from a culture that seems very intent on revering the past and what it's become. it's so different from what we get taught. i think many europeans would understand americans better, if we understood how big of a deal your army and your freedom is to you.

anyhow. i'm a social anthropologist, thus all the interest in culture.

in denmark the flag does not symbolise nationality but simply celebration. we put flags on birthday cakes. if you see a flag outside a house, you dont think oh they are proud of their country, you think oh it is somebody's birthday. seriously. most danes would be horrified if someone mistook their birthday flag for nationalism.

i am one of those americans who does not get emotional about the flag. i could actually care less about it, and these days.. well, these days i'm simply ashamed of it. duh. look at what we're doing around the world. i don't have an american flag flying from anywhere. i don't even own one.

Haven't had time to read the other comments yet...

I am a proud American married to a retired Marine. As such, we are both fiercly patriotic and proudly fly the flag every day on our newly installed flag pole. The Penn State flag flies right below it every day too!

The flag represents everything that my husband was ready and willing to die for (and still is). It reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices that so many men and women have made to protect our country and the liberities we enjoy today. It is just a piece of fabric but it symbolizes so much more!

I'm from the US and I don't feel any attachment to the flag at all. In fact, like some of the others, I find it a bit embarassing. It reminds me of some of the worst aspects of my country and culture.

I'm American, my husband is a dual citizen of Britain and Canada, and our children are American, British, Canadian and Irish citizens. We fly all the flags because we're proud of our multi-national household. By combining different cultures into one family, we feel we're doing our part to promote world peace on a very grass roots level.

So many eloquent women have spoken my mind better then I can right now. I'm an American with Canadian roots so the maple leaf stirs more positive emotions in me then the stars and bars. I love what the US flag stands for but I hate the way people are using it. I refuse to buy flag stamps because, frankly, I'm not feeling very patriotic these days. Our national anthem does send chills and sometimes brings tears to my eyes but only because it makes me think about what it stands for, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the liberty and justice for all, the melting pot. That's what I love. When I do fly a flag? It's Canadian.

I'm with Summer for the most part. I also have U.S. flag issues relating to the Pledge of Allegiance. During the 1950s (or '40s?), the politicians added the phrase "under God" to the official Pledge because they were paranoid about making sure nobody could suspect them of being Communists. Having always been an atheist, that means the Pledge (which we recited daily in school) served to alienate me from the whole flag experience. It's ridiculous to have that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, because it's not in the Constitution that Americans must believe in a god. Grr. Has always pissed me off.

I'm American, but I feel more sentimental about YOUR flag than I do mine. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho 1989-1991. So, I was there for de Klerk’s address to parliament on February 2, 1990. I have been back to the RSA twice since I finished my Peace Corps service. I can’t tell you how exciting it was, on my first visit back, to hand my passport to a black passport control official upon arrival in Joburg. My husband (also a returned Peace Corps Volunteer – Morocco) and I have always said we want to live overseas. So, we’re moving to South Africa – probably for 3 to 5 years – within the next 2 years. It seems the right time for our family (our daughter just turned 4) and for us as disillusioned liberals. Even though we live in a very “blue” part of the country, “red” America has us down. We just want to get away for awhile. I bought RSA flag stickers at the Cape Town airport as we were leaving this past March. I have RSA flag band-aids, or, um plasters? When I hear Nkosi Sikele I get all choked up. When we were on vacation in RSA this year and this happened I turned to my husband, tears streaming, and said, “I don’t understand why I get so emotional! It’s not even my country!” His response, “Ah, but it is your values.” True enough. South Africa has an AMAZING constitution that it is moving towards. USA has an amazing constitution … from which it is moving away. So, bottom line, as a symbol, the American flag embarrasses me. The RSA flag makes me hopeful.

Irish. Completely unmoved by flag in a political situation, not fond of sectarianism. Also, we have an ugly flag. But show me that flag in a sports context and I am in love! I've always said though, that I support Ireland because it is my team, not because of any deep-rooted, out-of-context, nationalist fervour.

I also hold a British passport. That always confuses people.

Dona, My husband did two tours in Iraq and is currently in a non-deploying job. The days I had to let him go to war are etched in my mind forever. Be gentle with yourself and while it may not feel like it at times, a lot of people keep you and your spouse in their hearts.

I fly an American fly infront of my house because I am a liberal and a feminist. That flag is as much mine as it is thoese who disagree with me and I'll be damned if I'm going to make it easier for them to make a sole claim on it.

As for burning it, I don't mind that. That people don't get thrown in jail for doing it is as good a symbol as any of why I am proud to be an American.

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