A flag for all

When we first read Chico City Councilman Steve Bertagna’s letter to the council requesting that American flags be flown throughout the month of September “in remembrance of the 9/11/01 attacks, and in support of American forces still overseas fighting terrorist activities,” we were ready to accuse him of everything from unbridled jingoism to raising a divisive issue for political gain in this election year.

We’ve been down this road before. These flags, commissioned by a local patriotic group dubbed the Flag Committee, have been hung and flown from the streetlight poles along Chico’s main thoroughfares around every patriotic holiday for the past few years. Anyone (especially liberal councilmembers) who suggests the extended periods of flag-waving are overkill runs the risk of being labeled un-American.

Last year the flags flew on council direction for about a week to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. This year Bertagna seemed to up the ante, asking to fly them for 30 days. But something unexpected took place at the council meeting this week. Bertagna told the council he had no intentions of creating controversy and was only responding to a letter from Flag Committee member Ed Regan requesting clarification on when the flags should be flown.

In the end the council voted unanimously to put the flags up a few days before Labor Day, Sept. 6, and fly them until Sept. 15 to honor both days. Last year Labor Day, the one day a year that honors organized labor and those who struggled and in some cases died to help raise the standard of living for millions of American workers, wasn’t included in any of the flag waving hoopla, and we lamented that in this space.

So instead of a blistering editorial ripping Bertagna, we tip our hat to the entire council and Mr. Regan as well for being united and spreading the recognition around a bit. After all, that’s what the American flag stands for, right?