In And Our Flag Was Still There, B. Kingsolver persuades readers that the American flag symbolizes patriotism and togetherness of the American nation. Commitment to the flag is culturally determined. The many uses of the flag in American customs, rituals, and legends have socio-historical origins and have been modified and transformed as the American cultural system has developed and changed. Thesis Kingsolver claims that the flag is a symbol of national unity based on historical traditions so important for all generations of Americans.
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Kingsolver uses everyday examples to unveil importance of the American flag as a symbol of national unity and patriotism. Its symbolism is reflected in colors of the flag and its historical significance for ordinary citizens. Using the example of her daughter, Kingsolver portrays that Americans have chosen to make much of the flag of the United States. A ubiquitous feature of symbolic environment, it flutters in the breeze over schools, government buildings, parks, and homes. Kingsolver’s daughter states: “it [flag] means we’re a country. Just all people together” (Kingsolver 604). Americans acknowledge a flag ritually before or during a wide range of athletic, cultural, and social events. At a very early age Americans learn to equate it with the republic for which it stands.
Kingsolver underlines that September 11 increases the role of American identity for ordinary citizens and requires symbols of unity and cooperation. Emotionally responding with varying degrees of loyalty, patriotism, and nationalism, Americans make a moral commitment to it, conforming to value systems well established in the society. Kingsolver recognizes the power of a flag as a symbol. Repetition of the image in a variety of contexts constantly reinforces socialized response to the flag: it means that typical citizens come not only to recognize its representation of the political configuration known as the United States of America, but to identify themselves as citizens of the nation that flag represents.
Kingsolver portrays a flag as a symbol of war against terrorists and a national struggle for peace and freedom. The flag is used as a symbol and image which invokes national achievement and advancement. The image of the flag rose to prominence as the most important national symbol. One learns that extreme social upheavals engender new uses for the flag, that often persist after society has reestablished its national identity and patriotism. Kingsolver underlines that it is time to use the flag as an obsolete symbols of “Old Glory” (Kingsolver 604). Kingsolver uses historical examples such as the WWII and the Afghanistan campaign which prove importance of national struggle against enemies and a crucial role of national unity in this “war”.
In sum, the flag means much more for American people than a national symbol: it is a symbol of national unity and historical struggle against enemies and oppression, struggle for independence and freedom. One learns of patriotism, and how love of the flag can lead to courageous efforts. One learns that the story of the flag should include not only moments of triumph to be reworked in Independence Day speeches, but also moments of shame and grief, and an emblem supposedly representing individual freedom. The American flag has not lost its historical significance, and can lead to a greater appreciation of current political and social relations, national identity and equal rights so important for every citizen.
Kingsolver, Barbara. And Our Flag was Still There. pp. 604-611.