Of course, symbols such as these are based not on real history, wherein we have failed many times, but on our ideals of what we should be, and a selective history of our finest moments. This was always the point.
All flags represent the people that fly them. For nations, this means that their flags represent the defense and protection of their communities. I may not be happy with North Korea’s leaders or policies, but I don’t wish its people to be defenseless. For the common people, who are not public officials, their feeling of patriotism is merely one of community and common defense. I want to live at peace with the Korean people, not wipe them out. For this reason, I am not at all offended by the Korean Flag, the Russian Flag, or any other foreign flag. A society is more than just the foreign policy decisions of its leaders; it is also its culinary, artistic, literary, musical, humanitarian, scientific, and religious traditions. Some of these things are admirable.
When I go to Turkey, I expect to see Turkish flags. When I go to France, I expect to see French flags. Shouldn’t those who come to America realize they might be exposed to American patriotism and take that into consideration before travelling? Those who are offended at such things should stay home. When a dignitary from a foreign country comes to the United States, and meets with my leaders to establish or facilitate relations between our respective countries, said dignitary is representing a foreign country. This should be obvious. I have no problem with said dignitary bringing with them remnants of his/her culture and national identity. They could come in wearing their flag for all I care. It doesn’t bother me. Nor should it bother those in foreign countries when an American displays an act of patriotism while visiting.
So it boggles my mind that some people take offense at our flag. Some people burn it to protest some of our bad decisions in the past. I think I understand this, though I have always thought it ironic that they burn the flag of the same country that protects their right to do so. Others refuse to wear lapel pins for fear of offending others. This I cannot understand. Others say they find no reason to be proud of their country (until their spouses start doing well in the polls). This I cannot understand. The flag is, and has always been, about freedom. So why do some of our very own citizens (and leaders) have a problem with this? How can people who hate the country want to run for office and lead it? Isn’t that a contradiction – or even treason? Explain this mindset to me.