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Flag Day: Flags can UNITE...or DIVIDE...

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Setting the stage (Start here):

- includes his full transcript

Some of his points to consider [my added comments are in these square brackets]:

  • Flags inherently create an IN group and one or more OUT groups

  • So why, then, have all of these little laws [flag codes] around how we use our flag if you can't enforce them? And that's because a nation is a fragile collective idea. It only exists in our minds. Can I see this? Thank you. Sometimes a flag is the only tangible symbol of that idea. Right? Our unity is sometimes only held together by literal threads. And that's powerful. The flag code is meant to preserve and protect that fragile idea, while also protecting your right to break it. And that's what's special about the United States, right?

  • And that's what's unique about our flag. Our flag is amazing. It has changed more than any other flag in the world. It's the flag code that says when a new state is created, a star shall be added to the union of the flag, and such addition shall take place on the fourth day of July. Our flag is unique because it is meant to grow as we grow. By design and by law, it is meant to change with us. It's a living symbol of our individuality, our diversity in the stars and our unity. We have a gift in the United States to have a flag that is inclusive. If the Nazi flag was an identity weapon, the United States flag, by design alone, stands in direct contrast. And I have to say, as a vexillologist [one who studies flags] in 2019, using this flag as an identity weapon against anyone disrespects it far more than letting it touch the ground or any one of the other little laws that we break every day. Right?

  • This flag is a symbol of our unity. We should never use this as a weapon against someone else. I resonate so deeply with the person who wrote in Dread Scott's journal, "We should never value the symbol over the thing that it symbolizes. We should never value a piece of cloth over a human life." And if you're ever going to use a piece of cloth as a weapon, you should never use this one, not when it has always had room for more stars.

  • Hopefully by now, you've felt the power of flags, and you can see what they can do. So what if we harnessed that power, and we used it to fight for something greater? This is the flag of Earth, designed by Oskar Pernefeldt of Sweden. [see next section for images from his TAD Talk] Just imagine with me for a second: What if we celebrated our humanity as much if not more than we celebrate our nationalities? As we become a spacefaring civilization and we go off into the stars, what do our nations mean anyway when you're standing on the surface of Mars or any other planet? And then of course, back here on Earth, as our planet is facing a climate crisis, as our climate could be unlivable in our children or grandchildren's lifetime, I believe we need a strong symbol, a flag, to unite us to fight, not just as nations, but as a species.

The Flag of Earth

Standing on the Moon...

Michael Green's challenging closing remarks set the stage for the following personal comments. Before getting to these, please travel with me...

On July 21, 1969 my surfing friends and I were in a Sir George's Smorgasbord restaurant in Southern California for our weekly all-we-could-eat feast. The manager disliked us scarfing up his profits but the waitresses dug our tanned bodies, long hair and NY accents...It was here that we watched history in the making...

As those who follow the band know (or are they following us???), the Dead were pioneering astronauts and hung out in space long before 1969. As an example, they had been to Mars. And while the album was released in 1974...they'd already been there and taken us with them...

WANT MORE PROOF? Here's the flip side of the album:

--one of many creations of Kelley/Mouse Studios. Read on...

Artist's Success Story: Drop out...

"In the tenth grade, Stanley did some graffiti on the high school hang out and was expelled from high school, the silver lining being that he then enrolled in art school."

Here he combined his passion for muscle cars, rock music and monsters into an amazingly SUCCESSFUL career...More at the next link.

U. S. Blues (launches the "Mars Hotel" ship)

Traveler: David Dodd is my subject matter expert for this band...and I'm forever Grateful...

[from this article] It’s good for dancing, for singing along, and for setting the mind off on a variety of directions, largely through a wide range of lyrical allusions.

Right off the bat, for instance, the listener gets the sense that this will be a rock and roll tune, since the reference to “Blue Suede Shoes” is unmistakable. So begins a lyric by Robert Hunter that went through a long evolutionary process, beginning as “Wave That Flag,” (see /song/wave-flag) and ending up as a collision of Americana from all directions, amazingly summarizing some things about our national character, if there is such a thing.

Who would argue that we are a mish-mash of diverse cultures? This song refers to so much musical, theatrical, and political figures that we are left feeling both proud and somewhat bemused by our own past as a country.

A Common Enemy Can Unite US...

In the opening video, Michael Green's comments about uniting to protect our common home: Earth...inspired this section.

How about banding together to protect our common home!!!


--people who study the nature of flags.

--Note the interconnected nature of the flag of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations

What kind of tunes are we singing...Unity...or Division...???

I'm leaving us with HOPE and these "young people speaking their minds..."


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