The Tattered Flag


It flaps in the wind limply at one corner.  The other is ripped to shreds, caught, hanging on a wire, dejectedly.  Unable to break free.

It’s been windy.  It’s raining.  It’s nobody’s fault.

And yet…it just feels wrong.  The moment I see it from my car, a cry escapes my lips.  A pain shoots through my chest.  It aches. I feel like crying.  My reaction would’ve been the same had I seen a young kid pushed down by a bully.  I feel sorry for the flag.  I feel indignant that someone would treat it this way.  I feel a sense of injustice so strong that my world turns upside down.

Such a strong emotion for such a simple inanimate object.  But it’s not simple, is it?  It represents our country’s life.  Our freedom.  Us.  So, I guess.  In a way.  It isn’t just an object treated with disrespect.  It’s a living and breathing representation of hope.  And if that’s torn and tattered, then what do we have left.


I’ve always known I was patriotic.  I grew up in a patriotic home.  I love the flag, the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, seeing pictures of soldiers returning home from war.  I’m no different than many other Americans.  But this was the first time I’d seen a flag ripped so badly like that.  I wasn’t prepared for my emotional reaction.

Being my mother’s daughter – a Christian counselor with a Psychology degree – I wanted to explore this new emotion and discover the reasons it was so strong.  Then it became even worse as I googled pictures of “ripped American flags.”  Every time I passed a picture of people stomping on a flag, burning it, or desecrating it in some way, I cringed, the pain hitting my chest again.  Except this time, there was something more than just the old painful indignation – anger and disgust.  I had a target that time.  Why people do those things is beyond me.  I think they just choose to be ignorant of the amazing freedoms our country gives them, which actually enable them to make such ironic fools of themselves.

But I think I discovered the stimulus behind my strong emotions.

1 – The flag represents our country.  Our country represents me – even though I don’t always agree with how this is carried out.  Therefore, you hurt the flag, you hurt me.

2 – The flag represents our country’s hope and freedom.  Being the eternal optimist that I am and always the peacemaker who wants everyone to get along, I still look to that flag as the personification of an ideal.  The image of a peaceful country filled with respectful, honest, moral citizens who put their selfishness aside and help their fellow man.

Tattered flags or not, I’m choosing to keep that image alive.

~ by Dusty Crabtree - Author of Shadow Eyes on June 21, 2012.

3 Responses to “The Tattered Flag”

  1. Beautiful writing “The Tattered Flag”.

  2. What a heart rending post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I agree with you. A torn and tattered flag is disheartening but at the same time there is the fact that some one proudly put that flag up to fly as a symbol of freedom. I know some times our flag is tattered and a trip to the store is needed but we are no less proud to be an American. I imagine for some it could be a retired fixed income family that have to save for a replacement but leave it out symbolizing their patriot hearts. So like you I greive and then I pray that finances and or time will be available for a replacement soon. You have a tender heart. HAPPY TO JOIN YOU AS A HAPPY TO BE AN AMERICAN. I know my heart did crying and rejoicing after 9/11 as the stores were flooded with requests for flags. I learned that so many people including some military people had never flown the flag in front of their homes. I wonder how many of those wanting to buy a flag on those days still has one flying and how many were looking for a replacement flag or a very first. I was raised in a patriotic home to. Christian first and patriotic lessons were just part of life living in the America of the 50’s.

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