Letter: I don't mind sharing the space on the flag pole

Posted 7/17/20

To the editor:

I want to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and voices about flying a rainbow flag - or any other - along with the stars and stripes on town property. I have to say I am …

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Letter: I don't mind sharing the space on the flag pole

Posted

To the editor:

I want to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts and voices about flying a rainbow flag - or any other - along with the stars and stripes on town property. I have to say I am little puzzled by the stand taken by my fellow veterans in town, but I shouldn't be - we're a diverse lot. 

Which is sort of the point. We all are.

For what it's worth I've earned the title of "veteran" three times over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I am fully ok with flying any flag beneath our national one that speaks to inclusion, to the "more" in the idea of America.

I'd understand the purity of their point if the argument was to fly only the American flag, pure and alone because - as I fully agree - it can stand for all of us.

But we already routinely add another at town hall, the "POW MIA" flag. Make no mistake, this is also a political statement, but a good one. Just like the Pride flag, it was a reminder to not forget part of "us" as a nation at a time when people needed it. It was, and is, a plaintive, striking, monochromatic way to shake people out of mistaking disagreement about a war for disparagement of those who waged it.

Any flag that adds to or emphasizes another aspect of the "whole of us" is good by me. In fact, I'd be happier if we had a whole rotating selection of them that captured anything protected in our constitution (maybe we could have a design contest for flags to represent the 13th amendment, or the 19th for that matter, to be part of the line-up).

No flag flown higher, to be sure. But there are plenty of good ones to accompany it, depending on the mood. I still look fondly on the scrappy "Don't Tread on Me" Navy Jack I wore on my left shoulder while on deployment, while the stars and stripes always sat on my right one.

While I appreciate their view, I'd offer another way of looking at it. How about the idea that the U.S. flag is nothing but a gloriously garish statement of diversity? An individual stripe for each of the 13 originals, but also a solo star for each and every one of the 50. It is the essence of shouting individuality, diversity, and unity - all at the same time. But right now, from time to time, we can use the reminder that it flies for all of us - until we do get to that day where everyone can see it just as they do, the only one needed to cover us all.

So kneeling, standing or hand on heart, it's my flag as much as yours. And having carried it with me to war three times, I for one don't mind sharing the space.

Scott Douglas

Barrington

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.