Making a Lexing-ton out of a Lexing-none

April 19 will mark the 240th Anniversary of “the shot heard around the world” that kicked off the American Revolutionary War in Lexington, Massachusetts. But on the anniversary eve of this all-important American milestone, some have perhaps forgotten the significance and history of our country’s most endearing symbol —our flag.

School officials at Lexington High School recently suggested that students should change the theme of their Junior/Senior prom from “American Pride” to “National Pride” in order to make the dance more inclusive. The officials cited the “diverse demography of our community” as the impetus for the recommendation by school advisors. However, the actual students from Lexington High found the proposal “ridiculous” and struggled to understand how the original theme could be offensive.

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Needless to say, it is redundant to push for an alternative source of diversity vis-à-vis the American flag considering the flag represents a nation of immigrants from its very conception. More than that, the message our flag ought to send is one of unity in spite of economic, religious or ideological disparity. People of every color, creed, wealth and religion have fought and died for our country and by extension the flag that epitomizes our greatest ideals: white innocence and purity, red hardiness and valor and blue vigilance and justice.

This is not Jingoist rhetoric by any means; the idea of displaying due personal and public respect to the flag as both a physical and patriotic symbol has been well-established by our Founding Fathers and the Supreme Court. Even in cases of flag burning for free speech, we see clearly that the symbolic meaning behind the flag as an extension and representation of our Constitution outweighs the immense importance placed by law on physical respect of the flag.

Why is this important? Why do we make the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, first and foremost, if it was only a mere colored rag? Why do we present the colors at every single high school, college and NFL football game in the nation? Simply enough, the flag does stand for something more, something greater and more encompassing than the 13 stripes or the 50 stars that make up its modest physical appearance.

The U.S. is the third most populous nation on earth and geographically the fourth largest, meaning that diversity itself is as ubiquitous to our culture as the homogenized images of apple pie, baseball, and hot dogs. In spite of this, over the 10 years from 1990-2000, the number of people who indicated that their ancestry was simply “American” doubled.

The melting pot has clearly done more melting and mixing in the last two decades than it did in its first two centuries. The American identity is now as dynamic as the voices and faces that brandish it; look no further than National Geographic’s prediction of the average American’s appearance in 2050, a far cry from the white, Christian, male, landowner shtick that characterized our own Founding Fathers.

Thankfully after the community backlash against this proposal by students, parents and anonymous online patriots, the school officials have decided to let the dance proceed unaltered on its original date. Even though the event was never officially changed according to the superintendent, the fact that the hyper-sensitive school administration felt it necessary to protect diversity when it was never in any danger is just the latest manifestation of the endemic political over-correctness that has permeated social and political dialogue throughout the U.S.

Reach the columnist at hfinzel@asu.edu or follow @OnlyH_Man on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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