What would you think of a museum art exhibit that featured the American flag, not in a traditional flagpole display, but desecrated in a number of unusual, thought-provoking ways?
One work featured the American flag wrapped like a swaddling cloth around a baby who is being held by a Ku Klux Klan member in full white-sheet regalia. And, to enter the exhibit, you were forced to walk on a giant American flag unfurled on the floor, similar to the “red carpet” entrances of celebrity events.
Several years ago, that type of American flag exhibit opened at an art museum in our city. To say the least, the exhibit stirred raw emotion, protest and public debate. There’s something about the flag of the United States of America that brings out the best—and sometimes the worst—in people. When that exhibit came to town, I thought about this quote by Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Memorial Day is fast approaching, and flags will be waving up and down the street in remembrance of the brave service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to give us the freedom we enjoy today. These freedoms even include public art exhibitions with which we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye.
Here at University of Phoenix, we are honoring an annual, heartfelt tradition with regard to the American flag in which employees and volunteers will place more than 10,000 flags on the lawn of our building in a design that reads, “Freedom is never free.” That statement speaks volumes as we commemorate Memorial Day and our fallen service members. The flags will be on display until Memorial Day weekend, at which point they will be taken down so that all 10,000 can be placed on individual U.S. military service members’ graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. It’s our humble way of saying, “Thank you for your service to our country.”
On Memorial Day—and every day—let’s respect what that American flag represents. Remember those who perished to ensure that it may forever wave.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you haven’t done so already, please click on the Memorial Day Tribute Wall link on our Phoenix Patriot home page (http://phoenixpatriotmagazine.com/memorial-day-tribute/) and pay tribute to someone you know who has honorably served—or to all of our brave and selfless U.S. military service members, then and now.