American symbols: Does our flag show hope & resilience? THE U.S. FLAG AFTER A DISASTER is a longstanding American impulse. Flags are popping up in Missouri in 2011. This photo shows one of the flags that popped up after a devastating Alabama tornado in 2007. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

American flags are popping up in Joplin, the Missouri town ravaged last month by one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history.  It’s a public display of hope and resilience. One example is Randy Underwood, who planted an American flag on the rubble pile that had once been his business. “We’re Americans, and we can make it through anything,” he told local media. “We’re still standing.”

Do you recall the same sentiment after 9/11? A vivid image I recall is this one: firefighters, covered in ash and soot, raising Old Glory amidst the destruction. Another was Reuters in Times Square, also showing the American flag in an expression of solidarity—but then making the decision to remove it, fearing that its display might endanger Reuter journalists around the globe.

The flag may also be a symbol of an aspiration—to become the newest state to join the Union. Obvious candidates include Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. But splitting up existing states is another possibility. These proposals have a long history, but recent ones include dividing Arizona or California into multiple states. The U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry has already designed flags to accommodate states beyond the 50 we now have.

Do you think it helps to display Old Glory in times of tragedy?

Would you like to see more than 50 stars on the flag?

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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