The University of California at Irvine has garnered media attention recently after six students proposed a legislation that would remove the American flag from the student government lobby. Although the executive office has vetoed the legislation, there is a slim chance the ban can still take effect.
These students were elected as student body representatives and they were relied upon to echo the voices of all their classmates as they embarked in various decision-making tasks throughout each of their terms. However, the concept of “representing the people” soon dissipated as they used their higher standing to accomplish goals outside the moral realm and popular demand.
I am an alumnus of UC Irvine and a proud Anteater. My four years at the university are ones that I would never take back. My undergraduate life was spent on a campus that did not represent extremist views. Instead our academic environment embraced all cultures, political affiliations, and personal beliefs. Students had the freedom to express themselves through organizing clubs, writing articles in the school newspaper, and even through radio broadcast. I never felt like a minority among my peers and I knew that despite our differences, we shared one common bond…. The love for our school and an appreciation for the country we reside in.
Fast forward to present day and six outliers in the UC Irvine community chose to threaten the existence of our nation’s flag. It was a movement that disappointed alumni, shocked the nation, and tarnished the image of the university.
I sat back in my chair reading the headlines baffled and confused as to why anyone living in the United States would find Old Glory offensive. I read the proposed legislation, struggling to comprehend the author’s rationale in creating a “culturally inclusive space” and describing flags as “weapons for nationalism.” I further learned that prior to the written legislation, unknown individual(s) took down the flag from the student government lobby and placed it in the Vice President’s office to indicate “discomfort” with its presence. This act lead to the subsequent efforts to pass the legislation.
I pride myself in being American because this nation has given me the privilege to live a righteous life since the day I was born. It has honored its promises to me as a citizen that my rights and beliefs will forever be guarded by the protections written within the Constitution. This country has provided me with an abundance of opportunities and I find it my responsibility to honor, respect, and pledge my allegiance to the stars and stripes of my land.
There is a tremendous amount of irony blanketing this situation at UC Irvine. Every young adult has the capacity to choose where he or she can obtain a higher education. When you select a public American institution to receive your undergraduate degree, you are choosing this country to support your personal endeavors. You have selected this society, this lifestyle, this culture, and this government to spend the next four years of your life with. Yes, with that choice to stay in the United States comes your right to freely express yourself. However, when a person exercises the rights bestowed to them with the intent to return the favor in degradation, hypocrisy comes into the limelight.
The world is a treasure chest unlocked and accessible to everyone. Every country has a different philosophy and governmental structure to offer. To those dissatisfied with America, I offer you everywhere else and perhaps you’ll find a country more habitable and suited to your tastes. In the meantime, as long as you maintain residency in my home I ask you respect my lifestyle and my décor.
Americans have valued the concept of this nation being a “melting pot.” We have humbly accepted the reality that people choose America, but do not necessarily agree with everything it stands for. These differing beliefs are palatable and we swallow our pride because we are a nation of great diversity. We respect those that refuse to pledge to our flag, we understand that some prefer not to use the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and we try our best to accommodate those that may have not fully grasped the English language. Our nation is consistently evolving working to recognize all citizens and give each inhabitant a chance to achieve the American dream.
The United States flag is one of the most significant representations of this country. Men and women have sacrificed their lives for the entire population so that current and future generations can live with the freedom they so rightfully deserve. The red, white, and blue stares back at us with the ultimate compassion for our wellbeing. It will pass no judgment on who you are or where you came from. It flies with the wind, teaching us the value in working together as a unit. Standing high and tall all throughout this nation you can never avoid its prominence within our society.
Throughout this entire flag fiasco, I spent a great deal of time reading American’s reactions to the proposal. I discovered that each individual put aside his or her political differences. The dividing line suddenly disappeared and everyone banded together to defend the flag. All of us, whether immigrants or born citizens, have a unique relationship with our country. Yet, no matter how different our stories are, we share a unified loyalty to defend the things we honor and ultimately radiate patriotism. The moment our flag is threatened, we see society act upon what the stars and stripes represent: Standing together…. one indivisible nation.