It is traditional to hang out the flag on Labor Day, the first Monday of each September -- a holiday born out of strife between the haves and the have-nots. First celebrated in 1882 in the U.S., the holiday is generally a time that also marks the end of summer vacations and provides an opportunity to fire up the barbecue one last time before cold weather sets in.
To hang a flag upside down is not a mark of disrespect. It is a mark of distress, an SOS for those in difficulty. It has nothing to do with the patriotism of those hanging it. Others whose love of country goes no further than an American-flag lapel pin may see things differently.
Since there is trouble in my country with something like 16-plus million either unemployed or underemployed, dismay seems appropriate. 9.6% unemployment is not much to write about in, say, Zimbabwe (94% in 2009), but many Americans do not imagine themselves as living in Zimbabwe.
Third-world status creeps in slowly. It's a dirty little secret: If we don't mention it, it's not true. "Mildred! Where is my American-flag lapel pin?!" The greatness of American principles is belied by its haves and its have-nots.
I will try to figure out how to hang my flag upside down.