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Flying the Flag

Jun 11, 2012

by Cate Fitt

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

My father loved to fly the flag. On patriotic holidays, he would lean out of second story windows to secure and suspend the huge ship’s flag that had belonged to his grandfather. He was always cheerful as he hung it just right, neither too high nor too low, and certainly never crooked. As a veteran of World War II, he shared his generation’s unabashed love of country. He spent nearly his entire career in public service, and I learned from him to treat such service as a privilege and a source of pride. His particular interests were education and civil rights, but his passions were fairness and accuracy.

[1. Beaded Boots from Nbdg 2. License Plate Flag by Design Turnpike 3. Antique Photos from Theartfloozy 4. Bait Shop Photo by RandyNyhofPhotos 5. Bars and Stripes Textile by FireHorseTextiles]

Abraham Lincoln was his hero and the Lincoln Memorial his place to contemplate. I remember well our many family visits there, solemnly reading aloud from the writings of Lincoln that were engraved on the marble walls. My father loved the flag because it symbolized the principles of union and equality expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That love and understanding was his greatest gift to his children.

[1. “Free” Photograph by ShainaHedlundPhoto 2. Whistle by BottleCapWhistles 3. Photo Lamp by Maryjaneappel 4. “America the Beautiful” Woodcut by Tugboatprintshop 5. Vintage Platforms from Youngandukraine]

My generation has had a more complicated relationship with the American flag. Most of my life, the flag has been less a symbol of a united country than an icon of difference and polarization. Nonetheless, I honor my father’s tradition and display my flag on the appropriate holidays.

Blessings are said to emanate with every wave of a Tibetan prayer flag. Perhaps that is true of all flags. I know I would prefer to think of flags as symbols of welcome.

[1. Jamaica Dress by Zigzagflag 2. Vintage Photo from Gwensewvintage 3. Flag Hat by Akiseo  4. Four Dog Flag by LaboniJunction 5. Texas Flag Cookies by SunshineBakes 6. Union Jack Throw Pillow by IconicPillows]

My favorite display of national flags is during the Olympics when so many countries gather in peaceful, fierce, and colorful competition. I love to see all the happy and excited young athletes swirling together, the flags becoming a patchwork of blended boundaries and melodies. The nightly news provides so many opportunities for cynicism and despair; I cherish the moments of joy and optimism.

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Fully Beaded Boots - Stars and Stripes - American Flag
Fully Beaded Boots - Stars and Stripes - American Flag
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Fisherman Bait Shop by Aransas Pass in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico No.0498 - A Fine Art Seascape Photograph
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Whistle Red White and Blue
Whistle Red White and Blue
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vintage shoes, 1980's American USA flag printed peep toe platform wedge,stars and stripes,  size 6.5, 37
vintage shoes, 1980's American USA flag printed peep toe platform wedge,stars and stripes, size 6.5, 37
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Soldier Sitting Under Flag Vintage Photograph (Y)
Soldier Sitting Under Flag Vintage Photograph (Y)
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Asafo Flags - Four Dogs
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Throw pillow Union Jack UK flag cushion cover pink blue coral red green 16 x 16 inches rectangle triangle olympics queens jubilee
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32 comments

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    Hillary De Moineaux from VoleedeMoineaux said 5 years ago

    Great article!

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns said 5 years ago

    Oh man, those Texas cookies are super cool!

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl said 5 years ago

    Such great artwork. So many great flags. Love it!

  • BizzieLizzie

    Bizzie from BizzieLizzieHandmade said 5 years ago

    Fantastic article! I, too, am partial to the American Flag! After serving 10 years in the military - it made me appreciate so many things. Seeing the flags immediately take me back to my time of service!

  • mfrawley

    Mary Frawley (Calligraphette Ltd) from Calligraphette said 5 years ago

    Great article! In Ireland (I'm Irish) we fly the flag at every opportunity even our county ones when the local team is playing gaelic. Seeing flags fly in the UK is more of a rarity but the UK it is great to see that everyone has patriotic fever at the moment. xx

  • telepelekids

    ilanit bronstein from telepelekids said 5 years ago

    Very nice article!my father was in the army most of his life,his connected to the country so much and very pariot! for me as we must serve the army,i had some issue with my country,i can understand the reality,,,but still proud to hold the flag!

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice said 5 years ago

    We certainly have flag fever here in the UK at the moment, what with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics, I've never seen so many Union Jacks in my life! However, it's quite common to see the flag of St George whenever England are playing World Cup football!

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 5 years ago

    Nice article! My grandfather was a world war 2 veteran.... He flew in the air force, they crashed on some island in asia that had no people on it and only pineapples for at least a month they were stuck there. To this day, my grandfather loves the flag and hates pineapples ad freaks out every time he sees one.

  • telepelekids

    ilanit bronstein from telepelekids said 5 years ago

    Intresting article,its remaind me my father,that serve the army most of his life,his patriot and every independing day the flag is part of us,,, for me and the young generation that must serve the army,we have more issue a bout that,,,

  • lkmccray

    Linzee from lkmccray said 5 years ago

    As the daughter of a miliitary vet and a member of that generation with the "complicated" relationship to the flag, I can identify with many of your comments, Cate, and what a lovely job you've done of melding the disparities. I will never forget the way American flags appeared EVERYWHERE after 9-11. Somehow that day cleared away the complications, at least for a time, and made flag-waving "acceptable" again.

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering said 5 years ago

    Those patriotic heels are killer!

  • laurelgreene1

    Laurel Greene said 5 years ago

    As the daughter of a member of The Greatest Generation, the wife of a veteran and the mother of a former Marine our flag holds a special place in my heart. I never take it for granted that it waves to remind us of our freedom and the many lives that have been sacrificed to make sure it will continue to wave. What wonderful colors the red white and blue are.

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye from VintageEye said 5 years ago

    Wonderful post, Cate! My husband, the son of Army veterans & himself an Air Force vet, has always been one to proudly display the colors. He has become somewhat of a local flag expert and is always happy to answer questions about the proper care, display & disposal of Old Glory.

  • EmiliaFaith

    Edie Ann from OhHoneyHush said 5 years ago

    Beautiful article !

  • minimalblue

    Jim Long said 5 years ago

    Thank you Cate. Your article asks me to recall the values that my father honored, values that have been obscured by memories of his personal struggles. Dad was a war hero but he wasn't a flag-waver, and he taught me that, in life, being generous is always the best path, no matter the circumstances.

  • chavezar

    AudreyRose said 5 years ago

    FLAGS! I used to be awesome at identifying countries by their flags. I was a member of the international student club in college and I was in charge of flags. In our cafeteria we would fly the flags of countries represented by the student body. They loved seeing their flag because it was a piece of home and it meant the world to them. It was also a cool way to connect to my friends. We could discuss the reason why their flag changed in color, etc one year to the next. Great conversations, friendly rivalries, beautiful memories of my friends. I miss them so much. P.S. With all this college talk please pay no attention to the grammatical errors, etc. It's late, I'm exhausted, and I am just typin'. Luv you Etsy!

  • customizeBaby

    Custom Baby from customizeBaby said 5 years ago

    I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEE THE COLORS OF THE FLAG!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4TH OF JULY HERE I COMEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! SOoOoO READY TO PARTY!!! OH YEAHHH :-)

  • ansluasi

    ansluasi from OnceUponABookshop said 5 years ago

    Funny how I tend to take seeing the flag for granted most of the year. But every Memorial Day, it's significance is brought sharply home to me again when I see it carried past in our small town parade. Somehow, in that melange of veterans, scouts, church groups, kids with crepe paper decorated bikes, farmers on antique tractors, horseback riders, marching bands, roadsters and beauty queens is the essence of all that is sweet and enduring and good about our country. Our flag waving overhead marks the spot like a "You Are Here" on a map, and it feels exactly, perfectly, wonderfully right.

  • iammieCLAYshop

    iammieCLAYshop from iammieCLAYshop said 5 years ago

    Nice story and picks!

  • DecadenceandDecay

    jordan from DecadenceandDecay said 5 years ago

    i really liked this article. i don't think a lot of articles on etsy's storque are heart felt or meaningful or even relevant, but this was very reverent and brought in/tied in a lot of things happening not only in our country but our world too. very well done, it's a very nice article.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

    I always thing flags are a strange thing, I'd hate to design one thats for sure!

  • julietdiyjewelry

    xiu qing zhu from julietdiyjewelry said 5 years ago

    great article!

  • dietraw

    Dietra Walton said 5 years ago

    Great prose and wonderful pictures -- thanks for always giving your all!

  • jascamille

    jascamille from jascamille said 5 years ago

    Oh, that's right, Flag Day is coming up. good choice for an article!

  • fatlama

    Laura from fatlama said 5 years ago

    In the UK I have grown up with a pretty complex relationship with our national flag..sadly when I was growing up it was highjacked by 'skinheads" and football nutters...and now the EDL (english defence league, horrible racist/facist group) use it...sad, but I would not display it myself as those associations are too strong. However, that said, I do feel a lump in my throat when I see it raised in first place in the Olympic stadium. What a feeling that must be for the athlete!

  • myvintagecrush

    Kathleen from myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

    Flags!!!

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom said 5 years ago

    Love these items! So colorful, especially the different shoes and the flag made out of license plates.

  • windycitynovelties

    Windy City Novelties said 5 years ago

    Great Items! Love the design of the pillow!

  • liddysopretty

    liddy sopretty from liddysopretty said 5 years ago

    Neat article :)

  • Kayylovee

    Kayla Olson from Kayylovee said 4 years ago

    I can relate to this article and I appreciate you sharing. It is very personal and colorful. I agree that the Olympics are much more than a competition but the unification of all the countries competing! It is refreshing to read of your patriotism.

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ said 4 years ago

    Good to see some positive patriotism. I love the US flag made from licence plates!

  • MyBFFbag

    Lisa from MyBFFbag said 4 years ago

    Awesome! I love family history and what a way to pass it down in your own creative way!

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