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From the editor: Let's return to one American flag for all

It seems that a person can choose whatever version of the American flag they like these days. I drive by places and see all kinds of different flags with different-colored stripes, depending which group they support.

It made me think: what would a journalist’s flag look like? Would it have the text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution written in the white stripes?

The First Amendment is important, but it’s a lot to fit onto a flag: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Or would a person just choose the part relevant to them — in my case, freedom of the press?

Then it dawned on me. A journalist’s flag is the same flag that represents every American. Old Glory in her traditional colors and stars and stripes. Because that’s what we are. One nation united. Not one nation that supports only certain professions or political persuasions. We’re in this together, folks.

While the flag is only a symbol, the adoption of certain flags for certain people reflects the very real state of divisiveness in this great nation. The latest trend is an American flag in all black, even the stars and stripes. When I asked a guy flying one outside his home about it, he said it’s the opposite of the white surrender flag. In his mind, he explained, it means he won’t surrender and won’t give up his rights. According to several sources on the internet, a black flag also means any enemy combatants will be killed, not taken prisoner.

Perhaps a plain black flag would get the message across the same way, just like how other flags — including those designed for specific military branches, sports teams, sexual identity or political viewpoints — show their support without co-opting the actual U.S. flag.

Just like no one should have “more” right to fly the U.S. flag than another, patriotism is also not only the purview of particular people. Love of country and our democracy may be expressed in many ways, among them protesting, volunteering, running for office and signing up to serve in the military. We must learn to disagree without hating the other or making it a “we versus them, winner take all” scenario. We are at our best when we all work together to make things better.

I, for one, hope that people across the county and the country will reclaim the U.S. flag that represents us all. Please choose to fly the Stars and Stripes outside your home or in your front window to show you support the entire country and all of its residents, even those you don’t agree with.

Jana Peterson is editor and part-owner of the Pine Knot News. Reach her by stopping in at the office at 122 Avenue C in Cloquet or emailing [email protected].

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