Can there ever be too many American flags? - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Can there ever be too many American flags?

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Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:29 pm | Updated: 11:24 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

On a day like today - a day where we commemorate the worst attack ever on American soil - the answer would seem to be a clear and decisive, "No."

But that wasn't the case in Denver just a few days ago.

Last Saturday, news broke via The Denver Post about the discovery of an estimated 12,000 unused American flags in a trash bin by a worker at Denver's Invesco Field. The worker was doing cleanup duty in the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention's closing night ceremonies the week prior, wherein Sen. Barack Obama officially accepted his party's nomination for the presidency.

As for Obama's big night the week prior, it was a sight to behold. Nearly 90,000 people were crammed in to the sports stadium to see him, and, yes, many (if not most) of them were waving American flags. Lots of people, lots of red, white and-blue. It was quite a show, indeed.

But then to find out that, after the big show, some 12,000 American flags were trashed - well, that's a serious problem in my book.

I've already had listeners to my radio talk show call in and insist, "You can't blame Obama for this." And no, I would not blame Obama for this directly. He's the candidate, not the cleanup crew supervisor. He most certainly had no direct connection to this egregious offense.

But if Obama is not directly responsible, who is? Certainly, on some level, the Democratic Party is culpable, since the trashing of the American flags happened at a Democratic event, and it is presumably Democrats who are working in Obama's campaign.

And isn't it ironic that Obama and the many speakers who preceded him on the stage of the Democratic National Convention repeatedly uttered the words "American values" throughout the entire convention - as if they know that, when it comes to such things, Obama lacks credibility?

I wasn't raised in America's "heartland" (I grew up in big-city southern California), but I was certainly raised with heartland values, and my family heritage has been, for several generations, distinctly American. As such, I was taught that, no matter what else, one must always respect the flag of the United States. Always.

Big flag, little flag. Cloth flag, paper flag, plastic flag. Expensive flag, cheap flag, whatever. You don't let it touch the ground. You don't let it get dirty. When you store a flag, it should first be properly folded. You show it respect at all times.

And one must show the flag respect, not because it has a utilitarian value, like leftover cups and napkins. You show it respect precisely because of what it is - the American flag.

That's what my upbringing taught me about the American flag. Yet Obama and company were left wondering what to do with leftover flags, and, apparently deciding there was no useful purpose for them, dumped them in the trash. Denver Post writer David Harsanyi, who first reported on the incident, even wrote, "I'm not sure what the DNC is supposed to do with unused hand-flags, frankly. But the Republicans are obviously questioning someone's patriotism here."

In case you or someone you know is at a loss for what to do with leftover flags, as Harsanyi and the Obama team apparently were, here's a tip: take a careful look around you while you're out and about today.

Notice the various schools, cemeteries, city halls, parks and funeral homes with lots of flags on display. Better yet, visit the "Healing Fields" display today at Tempe Beach Park.

And if you've got extra unused flags, the folks working at these various locations will gladly accept them from you. Anytime.

Austin Hill of Gilbert is a host for Arizona Web TV ( and is heard on XM Satellite Radio. He is co-author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book of Weird Presidential History," and is an editorialist for the national news and commentary site Contact him via e-mail at

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