Mark Liotta: The American flag is an emblem of protest, and our national standard

The American flag may be unique as it represents, not a people, not a land mass, not a political agreement or a tyrant’s spoils, but an idea. The American flag is a protest against the abuse of power by some over the inherent rights of others.

Our short history is replete with illustrations of this appeal for justice.

The birthplace of your flag, the American Revolution and War of 1812, was a rebellion against Great Britain’s dismissive abuses of her subjects. 6,700 new “American” founders were lost in this petition for liberty.

The fragile threads of your protest flag did not flourish the space of one lifetime before its meaning was challenged by another flag. The division of this infant nation in a horrific civil war was, at its core, a knotted question of whether the ideals of your flag would rescue a people in chains, or continue to deny their humanity. Costing the lives of 360,000 Union soldiers, your banner of protest prevailed.

It was 116,516 soldiers buried under the Stars and Stripes who freed the European peoples trapped behind the trenches of insatiable imperialism during The Great War.

It was an American nation at war around the world, objecting to Imperial Japanese brutality and the inhuman machine of German National Socialism, whose guidon of battle meant hope to the millions suffering in the dust of hopelessness. Some 416,800 sons and daughters of your flag never came home.

The last century saw the American colors wave in cold defiance of a utopian political system built on the laboring bones of entire nations. Their lives were nothing more than fuel to warm the elite of communist states. And when this cold defiance took flame in Vietnam, 58,220 American bodies were brought home under red, white, and blue.

Under our pennant of protest, President Eisenhower sent 1,000 airborne soldiers into Little Rock to enforce the civil rights of nine high school students seeking education equal to that of their countrymen.

As a symbol, it has not been perfectly applied. The American experiment is fraught with differing interpretations of the ideal. The plight of the original peoples of this continent is but one of many shameful examples of its imperfect application.

But it is this awful struggle to apply an idea in perfection which is at the heart of the great American protest. It is our birthright to object to that which is wrong while carrying the common banner, without fear. Only here, do we see opposing factions under the same colors, bearing it as a voice of protest. American legislators, executives, congressmen, and judges swear oaths under one flag before engaging in the peaceful conflict of ideas to make our challenge real.

Although doing so helps feed a media appetite for outrage, it makes little sense to signal protest by disrespecting your flag; flying the standard of our nation is itself a challenge to injustice. But this is a common grave of traditional symbols; through poor education and political misappropriation, their conception is lost over time to power hungry con men for their own purposes.

Americans will continue to stand together and defy the abuse of humanity throughout the world. But will we allow our symbol of protest to be sullied and lost to the ignorance or ambition of those who would abuse it? We may endure it, but we should never accept it.

Claim your flag of protest, and share in its power to stand for right; to rebel against misused authority, not to divide, but to bring together the people of a great common struggle. Stand up and claim your flag!

Mark Liotta, a state workers compensation commissioner, lives in Creek County.

This article provided by NewsEdge.