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The Flags People Fly

Stanford University Flag | NW 30th, north of Fairlawn and west of The Paseo | OKC

Stanford University Flag | NW 30th, north of Fairlawn and west of The Paseo | OKC

You can drive down the same street a thousand times and not remember anything about anything you see. It’s like the other day when my daughter Juliette told me to close my eyes and name the colors in Google’s logo in the order of their appearance. I didn’t even come close.
All too often, we glaze over the recurring and idealize the unfamiliar.

A few years ago, I picked up a book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Later, I exchanged emails with Vivian Swift, the author. She couldn’t believe her book had found its way to

Oklahoma, a place the Long-Island-Sounder referred to as exotic. This set my mind to thinking about Oklahoma in a whole new way and I haven’t stopped thinking about it yet.

Yesterday, in Oklahoma City, I drove down NW 30th Street north of Fairlawn Cemetery. Someone has reinvented a small bungalow. Work buckets line the porch with its shiny corrugated roof.

They’ve skinned a tree, and lopped off its top and turned it into an impressive flag pole. Better yet, they’ve hoisted a Stanford University flag, cardinal, and green. I love it almost as much as the school’s unofficial mascot, the venerable Redwood Tree.

There is something very special about this flag in the middle of urban OKC. It feels rebellious and hopeful all at the same time.

I don’t know about your neighborhood but in the area of town where I live people love to fly flags. At a law office in Oklahoma City’s Asian District the flags of three different nations fly side-by-side: Mexico, South Vietnam the United States of America. I’m annoyed when I see flags from different nations on separate staffs flying at the same height as Old Glory.

I feel so old calling it that.

Anyway, I love the diversity in my community those patriotic streamers represent.

I wonder what makes people fly some of the flags they fly. The only flag I’ve ever flown is the U.S. flag, my own personal freak flag and some flag with a giant Easter bunny on it. My mom bought it for me at one of those 90-percent off sales at Hobby Lobby one year.

But, I think I’d like to find a flag I’d like to fly.

Growing up, my father was a minister and every pulpit was the same. It was flanked by a piano and U.S. flag (stage left) and by an organ and the Christian flag (stage right.) I always assumed the Christian flag wasn’t as important as the U.S. flag because it was by the organ, which never got played unless someone died.

During many sermons (some more boring than others) I stared straight away at those flags and contemplated whether or not it was more important to be an American or a Christian. I’d wonder why the pledge of allegiance to the Christian flag sounded so much like the real Pledge of Allegiance. Suffice to say, in the playground vernacular I thought it was a great big

copycat and I thought God was more original and deserving than that.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about flags.

One October, while driving down Hudson between Midtown and Uptown, I spotted a woman with snow-white hair lowering two flags at sunset. One was a U.S. flag and the other was the flag of the United Kingdom. Now, when, I drive by that house, I always wonder if that little girl, now an old lady, survived the Blitz of London. Bombers overhead, was she sent to live with strangers? Rationing. Gas masks.

My imagination fills the gaps and mysteries created by all these flags. Why does the stucco bungalow on Frances fly the flag of Greece? Is it paying homage to friends rioting in the streets of Athens?
Flags help us make statements about who we are, who we remember, or who we want to be someday. They allow us to broadcast to all passersby our allegiance and conviction.

More often than not the flags people fly raise more questions than they answer.

Did someone attend Stanford? Do they understand the irony in lopping off a tree for a school whose band sports a dancing Redwood?

If I were going to fly a flag other than the U.S. flag, it would be the flag of Ireland, maybe even County Donegal’s flag from whence came my ancestors. I am certain given my temperament and sorrow, poetry, and laughter, that I’ve been drawn exclusively from the Irish gene pool. But, I think if I ever lived in Killybegs, where my great, great, great grandfather is buried, the flag I’d want to fly would be the Oklahoma flag, exotic and blue.

I had a hairdresser once who was born and raised in Scotland. Sandy had lived in Oklahoma for years and she said to me one time, “Everyone wants to live someplace else and I get to every day.” I think mostly, I do, too.

You’ve heard of the house divided? Meet the car divided | NW 19th | OKC

Great Britain Flag flies in the Heartland

Great Britain Flag flies in the Heartland

>On Hudson between Midtown and Uptown | OKC

One October, while driving down Hudson between Midtown and Uptown, I spotted a woman with snow white hair lowering both the U.S. and the U.K. flags at sunset. Now, when, I drive by that house, I wonder if that little girl, now an old woman, saw the Blitz of London, 1941. My imagination completes the mysteries created by flags.

The flag of Greece Blowing in the wind
A bungalow in Mesta Park flies the flag of Greece | OKC

Every flap in the wind, a prayer for Athens.

Brazilian flag blows in the wind

The flag of Brazil flies on Dewey and 19th | OKC

The motto, Ordem e Progresso translates to mean “Love as a principle and order as the basis and progress as the goal.”

OKC Thunder Flag in front of home

The flag of the Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Team | Heritage Hills | OKC

 These are everywhere!

American Flag in front of small bungalow in Oklahoma

American Flag in front of small bungalow in Oklahoma

I love the brief reflection of the American flag in the window.

St. Parick's Day parade with Ireland's flag in Oklahoma

St. Patrick’s Day Parade | OKC | March 2011

What flag do you fly?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Karin (an alien parisienne)

    Cool stuff!!! I listened just now. Will you be sharing a podcast link here/RSS to the show every week? Or on the sidebar of your blog? Podcast is the way I roll, and I will happily stick you into the lineup along with Garrison Keillor, The Pop Culture Happy Hour, and Science Fridays (along with a couple of others I listen to regularly).

    I actually read this late last night (Paris Time) before you had put up the link to the podcast of the show, and when you asked this question: “What flag do you fly?” — I answered inside of my head, “Well, my Freak Flag, all the way, of course!” 😀 I was happy to hear you put that at the end of the show.It is hard, though, being an expat. I really wish there were an “Earth Citizen” flag to fly. I would fly that one. While I don’t knock national or local (state) pride, for me, I really do feel a connection with being an international citizen and an international resident. I really like this, and don’t particularly want to pledge any allegiance to one place when I feel allegiances all over the place. I want a World Flag to fly.Okay, but I do confess a liking for the Colorado state flag. 🙂 When I learned about its symbolism in elementary school, I really did think it was a pretty cool flag & still do.Thank you, Jen, and a huge congrats on this radio opportunity. You sounded SO “public radio” (that’s a good thing) and it was awesome! Keep up the great work!

  2. Andi Fisher

    Congratulations on the new opportunity – well deserved and I am sure you will come up with a fascinating set of topics!

  3. Rose Byrd

    I have a small Christian flag beside my front door!  Whenever I put out flags for national holidays, patriotic days, it is always the U.S. flag!  I also love those little replicas of the very first U.S. flag with only 13 stars!

  4. jenx67

    Thank you, Jan! I appreciate the feedback very much. I’m already working on next week’s piece! =)

  5. Jan

    I heard you this morning and loved having a glimpse into your thoughts. Job well done.

  6. Bhelenmartin1034

    Jen–  This is GREAT News!  A perfect medium for you.  God bless…  Hugs–

  7. jenx67

     Thank you!!!

  8. TR

    Are you kidding!  You and your Gen-X views are perfect for radio!  A match made in heaven.  NPR here you come!

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