At some point in the development of a man's political consciousness, he must decide which official holidays to celebrate and which ones to ignore or even protest. Thanksgiving seems innocuous enough; it's a day for celebrating family not government. In any case, it gives us the chance to recall our colonial origins, which are not even mentioned in civics class anymore.
But for a true American individualist, most don't pass the test. Labor Day is out. Don't you hate those NPR tributes to union thugs? So is Memorial Day, which celebrates a Union victory over the seceding South. So is Veterans Day, increasingly a propaganda parade on behalf of a federal bureaucracy. And there are plenty of others not worth even noticing including Presidents Day (I'm anti-president) and MLK Day (a "hate whitey" day, in the parlance of David Horowitz).
It wasn't until this year that I remembered there was such a thing as "Flag Day," and then only because the leaders of our charmed community festooned the uptown streets with the Union banner. While our nation's civic elites continue to decry the fracturing of the national civic religion, in my town it is still remembered and recognized with some degree of deference.
That kind of traditionalism has its place. But contrary to conservative doctrine, not all traditions are worth keeping. People say that Flag Day commemorates the Continental Congress, but that also turns out not to be true. The US flag didn't even have an official shape and configuration until William Howard Taft codified it in 1912. Some tradition.
According to the Claremont Institute, it was in the midst of the wartime Progressive Era (the worst years in American history until the New Deal) that the dictator Woodrow Wilson gave the nod to the first Flag Day. Clearly the purpose was war propaganda: to rally the American people as their sons were slaughtered invading Europe in a betrayal of everything this country ever stood for. The flag liturgy came about at the same time: don't touch it to the ground because then you have to burn it (huh?).
Even then, the flag never really caught on for regular Americans, who have always preferred their state colors over the union-by-force flag. An official declaration of National Flag Day occurred at the hands of Harry Truman, who used it as a way to solidify nationalist sentiment in favor of his Cold War against Russia. It was his way of saying that he, not those crazy isolationists in the Republican Party, was in charge of the country.
In short, Flag Day as an official national holiday is only fifty years old. Far from being a day steeped in the American tradition of liberty and independence from tyranny, this day has been set aside so that we will all be loyal to the central government as it builds ever larger and more destructive bombs to control people at home and abroad. No thanks. Add Flag Day to the list of holidays NOT to celebrate.
Well, that still leaves us with the Fourth of July, my kind of holiday because it is celebrates the glorious American secession from Britain. This holiday teaches us the true meaning of patriotism: not loyalty to government but revolt against it. Moreover, it gives us the chance to purchase and explode huge firecrackers, the ones the liberals and gun-banners hate so much. And since these explosives are all made in China, we can bug the protectionists at the same time.
June 15, 2000