Americana: Ensign of Reassurance

Never in recent memory was a Fourth of July greeted with so ubiquitous a display of the Stars and Stripes. Flag decals could be seen on family and police cars, on buses and baby carriages. Flags fluttered from the usual poles, of course, but they were also being used in wom en's dress and hat designs. On a New York City subway platform, a man was seen wearing blue trousers, a red-white-and-blue striped belt and a dark blue shirt studded with white stars.

Independence Day has always been a time of patriotic renewal,...

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