Dude, Where's My Flag? 

East Bay residents justify their vehicular patriotism.

Miss, what's up with the flag?
Sharla Bass, janitorial services, Oakland. Date Old Glory added to car: 9/13
"People said I should put it on, and I felt I should, too. I represent the United States, of course, and I'm living here and everything. I was very much in disbelief of what happened. I'd never been through anything like that before. It was really shocking and it really hit home; I have two kids and we were all scared and worried, and they asked, 'Mom, what's going to happen next?' And to be honest with you, I didn't have any answers for them. We've been living day by day. We've been trying to get back to a normal life, per se, go on with our normal life, and it's been hard. And September 11 is coming right back around, so we're really aware of it now. You know, putting the flag on really feels like it was an outlet. It lets me breathe. It was like, 'This is where I'm from.'"

Dude, there's a flag on your ride. Explain.
Eddie Mark, retired, Berkeley.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/14

"It's to honor the flag at all times. I put it on there to express the feeling that I have toward being American. I have one on the back, too. And I also have one on the mantel at home."

Would that be your flag?
Odessa Beachem, retired nurse, Berkeley.
"I put it on when they told us to put it on. I don't remember exactly when that was. You know you're supposed to be patriotic. I bought it in a store; that was the quickest way to get it. I put it on because I'm very proud to be American. I'm African American, but I'm American. It's getting pretty old so I probably need another one. I'm old, so I'll need somebody to help me put the new one on."

Explain the colors, my man.
Bela Diossy, plumber, Berkeley.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/18

"I'm a political refugee. I come from a fuckin' communist country, Hungary. I am very happy and I'm sympathizing with the American people. After September 11, my friend had one on his car. I said, 'Help me, please, I want to get one, too.' He has the same car and now we have the same flag."

S'cuse me, about the flag ...
Baljit Kaur, nurse, Emeryville.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/11

"I felt real sorry that day. They attacked my country. I am Indian, but they attacked my country, too. And when it happened there was just something wrong. We put it on the same day; not just my car, but everybody's car. We are American."

Tell us about your stars and stripes.
Augusto Estrada, driver, Berkeley.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/13

"I wanted to put a bigger one on and write, 'One Nation Under God.' I drive around about a hundred miles a day. America has been good to me. Ever since I came to the United States, everything has been nicer, not only for me but for my family. And after the thing that happened, I mean, things have changed. On my family van I have a big flag on the side and I wrote in there with a marker, 'In case you forgot, Thanks America.' A lot of people don't see it like that, but I'm very grateful to America."

Why the flag, old chap?
Caesar Paiso, project coordinator, Union City.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/17

"This is the company van. I put it on to show my support, man. To show 'em that we're all in this together, to show 'em that we're united. I drive around a lot, up to Washington, through Montana, and I just got back home. Everywhere I've gone I've seen flags on pickup trucks, cars, you name it. Big ones, eight feet by eight feet. More so in smaller towns than the bigger cities like the Bay Area. I'm gonna put a new one on, definitely. This was the only one I could come up with at the time."

Gentlemen. The star-spangled banner. Discuss.
Pete Grimes and Richard Moody, house painters, Pinole.
Date Old Glory added to car: 9/18

Grimes: "I've got two flags. I found this one laying in the street on San Pablo Avenue. Some guy in a store gave me the one on the back. I've had them for about a year. It's all for 9/11. And as soon as 9/11 comes around again, they're gonna go off my vehicle, too. I'm gonna get rid of them. They look all tattered. Gotta have flag etiquette. You know the Boy Scouts will dispose of your flag for you if you want, don't you? I got the flag up front a little wrapped around the antenna, but I've got it flying the right way."

Moody: "I got one on my car at home, and it's all frayed. It got that way from just driving around. I know one thing: I paid $10 for it and it didn't even last a year."

Grimes: "We're a coupla red-blooded Americans."

Monsieur? Le drapeau? Pourquoi?
William Hall, chef, San Pablo
Date Old Glory added to car: 10/11

"I've always had a flag. When my daddy passed, I put the flag that covered him on my ceiling. So I've always had a flag around me. My fiancée gave me the flag and I just taped it on there. I need to change it, though, because this flag is done. It's been on there almost a year. I got a new one; I just haven't changed it yet. I've got two other ones on the back, too."


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