On this 4th of July, I will honor the American ideal which the United States flag represents. Flying the flag doesn’t make me a patriot. Working to bring America closer to the ideals that the flag represents makes me a patriot. The consistent growth towards a “more perfect union” includes guaranteeing equal rights and respect for all people. The guarantee that every eligible voter has equal access to vote is an American ideal. Working towards the equal application of the law for everyone is an American ideal worth achieving. Respectfully acknowledging the legitimate results of an election with a peaceful transition of power is an American ideal. Recognizing political differences respectfully without resorting to name-calling and demeaning references is an American ideal. Hate speech, bigotry, expressions of “white supremacy” are not expressions of the American dream. Certainly, attacking the nation’s Capitol is not an action of an American patriot.

If displaying the American flag is a choice you make, there are some things you should know. The American flag is a symbol. By itself, it is not an item to worship. It is symbolic of the dreams and achievements of this American experiment. It disturbs me to see the displays of the flags that are contrary to the respectful care of the flag. A peaceful protest that draws attention to the shortcomings of American justice doesn’t disturb me, but seeing the American flag co-displayed with the traitorous flag of the Southern rebellion disturbs me. Seeing the tattered remains of an American flag still tied to a vehicle disturbs me. “When your flag becomes too grimy or damaged to continue to display, it’s important to retire the flag with honor.”

Flag code also forbids ever displaying a flag in a manner in which it could easily get dirty or damaged: There are many homes that have the American flag displayed 24 hours a day. Unless you have a light on the flag it should only be out from sunrise to sunset. I see the flags left out in the rain. “The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.”

If you choose to display the American flag this July 4th, please do it appropriately. For me, displaying the flag is absolutely secondary to the efforts to work toward the tangible American promise. I will remain an American patriot by my actions.

Becky Orahood, Payson

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