Nation: Who Owns the Stars and Stripes?

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 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 over tones and conflicting meanings greater than Old Glory was ever meant to bear.

In the tug of war for the nation's will and soul, the flag has...

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