Flag Girl

I dug up this frame while looking for a picture to fill the Democracy theme in JPG Magazine.
It was taken during a small-town 9/11 memorial ceremony in Central New York, where I'd followed Celia to her assignment for the Syracuse Post Standard. I loved having the freedom to let my eyes wander without the pressure of a deadline or assignment requirements. Little plastic flags were everywhere- thousands stuck in the ground representing Americans killed in the towers, people waving a few at a time, even the colors of the sky above red firetrucks looked like the stars and stripes. It all felt excessive. The nationalistic fervor was too much for me, and it became especially poignant when I saw this little girl waving her plastic flag. (Not to mention she and her family were standing around an eerie light source). My sensitivity to big emotional nationalistic demonstrations is partly due to years of Holocaust education. Whenever a group of citizens stands around chanting, waving flags, caught up in a mob-like patriotic moment my brain can't stop itself from envisioning 1940s Germany. A family teaching their daughter to be proud of her country makes sense, I'm a strong supporter of passing on culture, tradition, distinguishing ourselves as a part of a greater i-den-ti-ty. Yes we're all part of one human family, but what often makes us special is what we believe in that is different from the "other". That all begins at a tender age when we're subject to our parents' (mainly) ideas. So as a country, as a collective parent for the next generation, it would make sense to show pride but not melodrama. Educating about the events on 9/11 is essential for our country's future, but as we move past the Bush adminstration hopefully we can view history with level heads, not through the blur of a thousand little plastic flags.