Patriotism and the American Flag

Patriotism and the American Flag

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, American citizens were vehement in procuring and displaying flags and related patriotic merchandise from local retailers. Newspapers like the New York Times provided colorful printed American flag inserts that could be adapted for window display. Although a long familiar sight within government buildings schools and municipal offices, flags quickly proliferated on homes and business facades throughout the nation. Sartorially, they festooned automobile antenna and highway overpasses, uniting to create a pervasive expression of pride of country and democratic values in the face of grief, confusion, anxiety and global volatility.

Artist and Long Island restaurateur, Ziggy Attias, recognized the historical relevance of this cultural phenomenon and found a personal mission in collecting flags and oftentimes, partial remnants of them, which had blown off cars and bridges, strewn along the road shoulders of the Sunrise Highway, Route 27 in Eastern Long Island. He persisted in gathering these accidental red, white and blue leavings throughout the winter of 2002. Recently, Attias donated his holdings of approximately 150 American flags of varying sizes and conditions to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. "I found flags in many sizes, and at times just fragments," Ziggy wrote in a personal statement about his collection. “Some were stuck in bushes or trees, some mixed in with trash, some wet and muddy, others frozen in ice. As one flag gradually became a collection of many, the significance of them and all that they represented grew. As a country we were beat up, as was our flag yet, we are still here…"