American Flag Epidemic
The French apparently find American flag waving akin to a disease. So, at least, one gathers from the Agence France Presse story ” US ‘flag epidemic’ reaches peak on Fourth of July.”
It’s a true epidemic: the red, white and blue, stars-and-stripes banners are everywhere in the United States – on house facades, front lawns, cars and clothes. Hitting an high point on the July 4 US Independence Day holiday, it is a genuine phenomenon of American national pride that, inevitably, gets a good but also sometimes unwanted boost from commercial exploitation.
“It’s a little strange, this obsession of the flag,” French author Bernard-Henri Levy wrote after traveling across the country. “Everywhere, in every form, flapping in the wind or on stickers, an epidemic of flags that has spread throughout the city,” Levy wrote in “American Vertigo” of the riot of banners he saw.
“Old Glory,” as the US flag is affectionately called, can be seen in abundance through the year in the American heartland and the South, and to a lesser extent in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Patriotic flag-waving strengthened in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and increased even more with the beginning of the war in Iraq as a testament of support for President George W. Bush. But the phenomenon hits its peak each year around the Fourth of July, when it becomes the focus of intense advertising and commercial promotions. At shopping malls, big and small national banners show up on jeans, baseball caps, dinner plates and swimsuits. The Stars and Stripes decorate everything — from tattoos and fingernails to huge cakes.
The “riot” of banners?