Within a month of 9/11, millions of Americans bought American flags. Small flags they flew from their cars, trucks, and bicycles. Medium-sized flags they planted in their front yards, put onto their home windows, and flew from recently-installed metal poles on doors and porches. Large flags they flew in front of their businesses.
In our tragedy and grief we stuck together, the flag a symbol of our unity and patriotism.
It wasn’t long until commercialism in the guise of patriotism dominated the American unity. In newspaper and magazine ads, in television campaigns, whether for cars or political races, we saw the message and an image of the flag. In myriad direct mail flyers, we first saw the flag and a patriotic call—and then an advertising pitch that each of us had an inviolate right to buy whatever the advertiser was pushing. General Motors even claimed that we could “get America rolling” again by buying cars.