In earlier years, I have never put a flag on my house. Well, except for Jolly Roger on Halloween, that is.

Back in the old country, if you saw a Soviet (and later Ukrainian) flag, you could bet any money that the building it was on was some government institution.

When I first came to US, flags on private houses really surprised me. The idea that a private citizen would put a flag on his house, of his own free will, without government forcing him, was totally alien to me. You see, when you are taught that your country and your government (and the ruling party) are one and the same, you make a connection that the flag represents the government as much as it does the country. And when life teaches you extreme cynicism about anything government-related, because of corruption, hypocrisy and Orwellian machinations of the government (not politicians, government as a whole), flag of that government is the last thing you want decorating your residence. It took some time to learn that you can be cynical about the government, and even despise the ruling party (or all parties for that matter), and still love the country.

During the years of H1B serfdom, and later, during the green card years I didn’t feel that I had the right to that flag. I lived here, but had no right to call this country mine; the flag on my house would make me seem an impostor.

Now I do have a right to that flag. And today is a perfect day to fly it, honoring those who died to make and protect this country and its freedoms.
My son helped me today. We raised the flag half-way in the morning, then all the way at noon.
For him it’s natural to want a flag of his country on his house. And it’s a good thing, I want it to stay that way.

I wanted to write something about Memorial Day itself, but someone, who writes better than I ever could, already did. Go read

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I find it both sad and comforting in a way, that often our immigrants understand the promise of our country better than our native born.

    You at least, understand fundamentally what it is to be an American, because you’ve also experienced everything America isn’t.

    Would that more of us understood that, too.

    • In a way, it has a perfectly reasonable explanation: people take things they acquired “automatically” by birthright for granted, and value them significantly less that what they had to strive to achieve. It is up to us to teach our kids not to take what they have for granted. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I keep trying.

      And let me just say, I am honored to have you comment on my blog, Sir. Thank you for your writings, your blog has helped me a lot.

  2. It pained me especially yesterday to listen to muslim call to prayer amplified behind my window.

    • Doesn’t bother me. Why should followers of any religion suspend their beliefs and practices on account of a secular holiday? They are exercising their 1st amendment rights. They are not really interfering with your ability to exercise your rights. Now, if they came to your house and insisted that you stop barbequing pork, because the smell offends them, you’d be completely in your rights to tell them to get lost.

      You know, growing up with stories of WWII atrocities, I used to dislike all Germans. Until I had a chance to work with some German folks, and became friends with them. That’s when I really understood, on a deep level, that hating an entire people is pretty dumb. It’s the same with Islam. We’re not fighting Islam; we’re fighting Islamic extremists, and it’s not the same thing, no matter how much certain talk radio hosts try to make it seem that way.

  3. We’re not fighting Islam
    And that is our mistake.
    But we’ll learn. My sincerest hope that learning process will take only small amount of blood – but it already had cost us dear.

    Muslim are not Germans. Their culture, stemming from their religion, is fundamentally different from European. They never reconcile with idea of being defeated or analise why they were; they will simply rinse and repeat, century after century.

    You sound like someone who never lived in a muslim country or even in a muslim community. Single, separate acquaintance with muslims is quite different: when they are in minority, they lick everyone’s backside and appear the most patriotic citizens…

    • I have been to Israel, and to Palestinian territories a few times, and saw both extremists and normal people.
      You’re entitled to your opinion. I am not in the habit of trying to convince people.
      I will say that displaying racial or religious intolerance (in either direction) is one of the fastest ways to lose my respect and to get banned from comments.

      • You will have no occasion to ban me: I will not return.

      • Thank you for visiting. If and when you decide to come back, without displays of bigotry, you will be welcome.

  4. I’m behind in my blog reading and I just got to this one today, Starik. Your writing here moved me very deeply, and I want to thank you for expressing your feelings so beautifully. The word-picture you painted of you and your son raising the flag together made my heart melt. Thank you.

    • Thank you. I had a great number of WWII veterans around me, when I was growing up. Holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day are very special to me. I want them to be special for my son too.

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