"I know people who would buy that" he said, pointing at the flag that fell out of my closet as I searched for my jacket.
I brought a jacket with me to South America because I knew, at some point, despite the sweltering heat that dominated the summer, spring and fall... I knew winter would come. At some point, I'd want a jacket. And this was that day. Hooray! Cool weather had finally arrived and I owned a jacket.
I brought a flag because, stupidly, I thought I'd need one.
If you ever need a flag, you are not a patriot.
Patriotism is not stars and stripes, red, white and blue. Patriotism isn't loud. Patriotism isn't brash.
Patriotism is not better than. When you are in a foreign land, patriotism is not boasting. It is learning. Learning about someone else's culture, and, if presented with the opportunity, sharing your own.
I love my country.
"I know people who would buy that" he said, pointing at the flag that fell out of my closet as I searched for my jacket. "At a protest, American flags are very valuable. We burn them."
He wanted to make me angry, but how could that comment make me angry? My flag is just a cheap piece of cloth. As far as I'm concerned, it represents my country as a logo, but nothing more. It's just a piece of cloth.
Knowing that I can easily buy another one, I gave him my flag.
"I will trade this your time" I said. "We'll spend an afternoon at the bar, and I will buy the beer."
As he looked at me, puzzled, I handed him that piece of cloth, sewn with thirteen red and white stripes plus a corner with fifty white stars on a blue square.
"When we meet at the bar, I will tell you why I love my country and you will tell me why you love yours. I will be glad to learn what you have to share with me and I hope you will enjoy what I have to share with you."
Despite what foolish men have said, no one ever died for a flag. Our service men and women fight and die for what the flag represents. I trust that you understand the difference.
Cloth may burn but patriotism does not.