Today in my country, the USA, we commemorate the armistice of WWI with this national holiday now called Veterans’ Day. Today, I lift up my favorite veteran, my father, William T. Spencer. My dad served in the Air Force during the Korean War, leaving his reserve duty requirements (after active duty) as a Captain.

Just a few days ago, he and I were talking about end of life stuff — his estate planning, durable powers of attorney for healthcare, and a little bit of memorial service planning. He made it clear that he did not want me (or any family member) to contact the Veterans Administration when he dies, no military honors or grave. “My flag was stolen during the Vietnam War,” he said. He was talking about how, for him, the U.S. flag used to be a symbol of the patriotism that works constantly to transform the United States into a more perfect union. But for my dad (and for at least some others in his generation), the flag was co-opted and its symbolism came to be about militarism and conservative politics.

His comments reminded me of an essay Bill Moyers wrote years ago where he laments a similar loss of the flag. On this Veterans’ Day, I wish I could figure out how to give the flag back to my father.

USA Flag 1992

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