The Beginning

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George Washington Bridge, Septemeber 13, 2001, Greta Pratt

My idea about this whole flag thing is that it started with 9/11. I was living in New Jersey close enough that I saw the towers and the smoke,right after the first plane hit, from the top of Skyline Drive on my way to work. In the small town where I live many residents work in New York City and most know someone who was personally affected. There is a hand painted memorial in the local high school dedicated to former students who were killed in the collapse, the point being, it was very close and personal and deeply felt in my town and throughout the tristate area. What I noticed was that pretty much instantly people in New York City and its suburbs put up flags. It was a heartfelt showing of solidarity, a symbol that Americans, engulfed in shock, used as a way to say we grieve for those who lost their lives, we grieve for our country.

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Can Collection, Greenwich Village, September 13, 2001, Greta Pratt

That has always been my take on the Flag O’Rama. It started after 9/11 as a way to show solidarity and morphed into a “brand” used to sell, in its most harmless mode, products, but more dangerously it bombards and assails us with ideas of nationalism.
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Engine 14, September 13, 2001, Greta Pratt

Now that I am in southern Virginia, where people, for the most part, have no personal connection with the 9/11 tragedies, I am hearing different thoughts about the flags. My colleague Kenneth Fitzgerald’s take is that there are not nearly as many flags as there where after 9/11 when “every car had one of those little stick-on flag poles.” Maybe it’s because I am looking for them but I think there are a lot more now. They used to be just flags on a pole, visible to all, but now we don’t even notice them, they blend in, they are hidden in plain view.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Toby Kamps at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, where I am going to be part of a show he curated titled “Old Weird America,” he feels, from the start, it was just a marketing ploy.

Anyway, now I am curious, how did your town respond to 9/11 flag wise? Drop me a note here at the blog with your thoughts.

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1 Response to “The Beginning”


  1. 1 Ben Borman January 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    The Lincoln portraits are well balanced. Looking at history, the emancipation proclamation says it all.


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