According to historians, the use of political yard signs in American politics dates back to the 1820s when supporters of John Quincy Adams signaled their enthusiasm for the son of the former president by erecting advertisements for the White House candidate on their property.
Public, partisan cheerleading predates the United States, of course. Citizens of ancient Rome used to promote candidates on the sides of buildings.
Drive through any neighborhood these days and you’re bound to see yards and thoroughfares filled with colorful political signs – often two-sided cardboard placards affixed to thin metal poles.
This past weekend in Colorado Springs, I was driving with our young boys through the residential area of downtown known as the “Old North End.” It’s filled with beautiful houses dating back over a century when newly arrived adventurers struck gold in the Colorado mountains. Wood Avenue is nicknamed “Millionaire’s Row,” because its earliest homes were built on the fortunes culled from nearby mines.
Alex, our eight-year-old, counted 24 “Biden-Harris” signs as we made our way through the tree-lined streets, all of which were ablaze in their autumn glory.
Will decided to start counting the “Trump-Pence” signs – and managed only one or two.
Could it be that the former vice president is outpolling the current president by such a wide margin in a generally conservative county in Colorado?
Yes, it’s possible – but not likely.
We decided to retrace our steps and instead of counting signs, Will began counting American flags. None of them had political signs on their lawn.
His final tally was 16.
Could it be that supporters of President Trump are opting to fly their American flag instead of sticking a traditional campaign sign in their yard?
In reality, the Stars and Stripes belongs to every American, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. Well over a million soldiers have died with it on their uniform, in battles nearby or a half-a-world away.
How it’s become politicized is a subject sure to draw the ire of some and the agreement of others.
As a young boy, some of my earliest memories revolve around attending my brother’s Boy Scout troop’s special meetings, which were held in the gymnasium of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Grand Avenue in Baldwin, on the south shore of Long Island.
There would be the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. On several occasions, a scout would read a portion of a famous essay called, “I Am the American Flag.” It currently reads, in part:
I speak from the wisdom of a long life. I first felt the vigor of wind on my multi-colored face when I unfurled my thirteen stars over 230 years ago. I have known 45 presidents and have traveled across continents, oceans and deserts… and on the surface of the moon.
I was there when my nation was born. I was in the hand of my first President in the blood and snow of Valley Forge. I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice. I stand for freedom.
I have earned the right to speak. The right paid for my freedom of speech is a price few remember or can comprehend.
Because of those brave American patriots I can fly atop the greatest buildings in the world. I can stand watch in America’s halls of justice. I fly majestically over institutions of learning and stand guard as the greatest power in the world. Stand up and see me. I am the most recognized symbol in the universe.
It concludes with a call for humility and gratefulness, biblical principles that often seem at odds in today’s loud and self-indulgent culture.
I wish supporters of both parties would feel comfortable to fly their American flags and champion their candidates and their causes.
Photo is from Shutterstock.