32 Years Ago in TIME

As the first Fourth of July since the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, Americans' enthusiasm for the flag has never been higher. But in 1970 OLD GLORY was provoking passions of a more complex sort.

In a vanished time of simpler Fourths of July, Woodrow Wilson proudly hailed the American flag as "the emblem of our unity." For many Americans on Independence Day in 1970, to unfurl, or not unfurl, the front-porch flag is an unsettling dilemma. What was once an easy, automatic rite of patriotism has become in many cases a considered political act, burdened with overtones and conflicting meanings greater...

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