I vividly remember the "run on flags." Every retailer was instantly out of flags. Entire piles of window stickers and bumper stickers would suddenly disappear. Anything with a United States flag on it was a must have. Everyone needed to immediately embrace this sweeping nationalism. But at the same time, everyone was overwhelmed by this intense helplessness. So I guess people revert to traditional customs - specifically, waving the flag. I can understand this. Human beings are so visually driven. I think the mere thought of not displaying a flag would have been tantamount to treason, or siding with the enemy.
Of course I wholeheartedly support any American's right to wrap themselves in the flag. If that's your thing, that's fine with me. But for me personally, it often seems like a hollow gesture. And yes, I know... people gave their lives for that flag. Well... not really. For me, that's just too simplistic. People don't give their lives for cloth symbols and metal poles. They die for conceptual reasons like freedom and their perception of liberty. I've always been hesitant to incorporate the intangibles into a nice, little package. Wrap it up and put it on display. The larger the flag, the more patriotic you must be. I just cannot follow that progression. For me, it does not compute.
I want to hear the things you say - not what you wear, not what you display. I want to see people emboldened and take action, not merely mimic the routine choices of the crowd. So what did I do in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I required a bigger statement. My solution was a piece of paper in the back of my Subaru hatch...
I thought this set an intriguing precedent. Of course, I couldn't place my trust in an imaginary deity to right the ship. And I could never actively salute Dick Cheney or embrace W. So I went straight to the source - the head of the Department of Defense. Made sense to me... at the time.
I'll close on a lighter note. I really like this 9/11 tribute commercial I saw yesterday. It's the one with the children singing Jay Z/Alicia Key's "Empire State of Mind" to the New York firefighters. It's so gripping and poignant. Then you get to the end, and the words State Farm appear on the screen. I've often been disturbed by insurance commercials and how people let emotions guide their decision process when buying auto coverage. They attach these notions of nobility and grandeur - to a fucking insurance company. Idiots. As if that paper/number company "really cares about you." As if someone behind a desk in Connecticut is "there for you in your time of need." But I suppose I'll exempt State Farm from the hate. They will get a pass. Allstate though... NEVER. They fucked me over in the early 1990's. And much like 9/11, I'll never forget.