A flag in the wrong place, a flag in a right place?
By Denise Noe
June 14, 2007

Since June 14th is Flag Day, it reminded me of an obnoxious display of the American flag I regularly saw when I was a teenager in the 1970s. There was one boy at my high school who had a Stars and Stripes sewn into the seat of his jeans.

This was toward the end of the Vietnam War. Although I don't know for sure, it seems likely that this young man was influenced by the seeming futility of that conflict. It is also possible that other problems in the United States, such as poverty and racism, led him to think ill of his country and make his infantile gesture at demeaning it.

Adolescence can be a time of moral extremes. The flaws in the adult world and in one's society can lead to an extraordinary sense of betrayal and subsequent outrage. It is also true that the process of establishing a separate and distinct identity can lead to rebellions both attractive and ugly.

I never even knew that boy's name. However, I hope he outgrew the sort of simplistic umbrage or rebelliousness that led him to put an American flag on his rear end. I would like to think that he was eventually embarrassed by this nasty gesture.

Even more, I hope that he came to love his country and its flag. I'd like to think that after the attack on the United States of 9/11, the man who had once so desecrated his flag may have joined so many of his fellow Americans in donning it as a lapel or flying it proudly outside his residence.