The events of January 6, 2021, at our U.S. Capitol got me curious about flags. Not only did I see a wide variety of them in photos, but I’ve started noting them more in the community around me. So, I thought I would create a blog post in which I list the flags I detected in photos or videos and review what they mean—at least according to the quick research I did! I’ll share a few notes on my mind about what I found, as well. I hope this resource is helpful to you and others. I end this post raising an important question for us to consider about a “newer” flag that is being flown and what it means. To be fully transparent, I do believe that there is meaning beyond what this newer flag says, beyond what some are attributing it to say.
This is the official flag of the United States of America. “The U.S.A. flag stands for our nation and the shared history, pride, principles, and commitment of its people. When we properly display this powerful symbol, we signal our respect for everything it represents.” Information about how to properly display the flag can be found here.
This was a battle flag of the Confederate States of America. It has changed over time. Many claim it symbolizes Southern heritage, while others claim it symbolizes slavery; my thoughts are that Southern heritage involves a history of slavery, so it does both. Perhaps more importantly, I see it as a symbol of division. This flag was never meant to represent all states that we know today as the United States of America. Furthermore, I see it as a flag of secession. Today, it is identified as a Hate Symbol and is used as a symbol of white supremacy and slavery beyond the borders of the U.S. More information can be found out about it here.
Three Percenter flag: This is the flag of a gun rights militia group, although members would say that they are not a militia, but rather are pro-government, as long as the government follows a strict interpretation of the constitution. Some three percenters form non-paramilitary groups and create online “networks,” rather than militias, while even more people are active as individual members and are unaffiliated. It was created in 2008 based on the inaccurate claim that only 3% of people took up arms against the British. More information about it can be found here.
This flag is seen as a symbol of support for the reelection for Trump. The problem with this flag is that it usesa logo (the lion in the middle) synonymous with the white supremacist group known as VDARE, an anti-immigration group that has been suspended on Dutch Twitter for promoting hate speech. After spending just a few minutes on the VDARE website, I truly believe that this is simply just a hate symbol. See for yourself hereif you’d like.
This is the Punisher skull flag. It originated with a Marvel character…yes, Marvel comics. However, many (like myself) believe it is misunderstood. One of the Punishers co-creators recently spoke about how the character was not created to be something to admire, but rather his actions should be seen as morally dubious. It has been a profitable image but, no matter the backstory, a skull to me represents death. You can read a bit more about the Punisher Skull from its creator here.
This flag can also be found with a cannon on it rather than a gun. The cannon version of it was the original and served as a representation of a small group of Texans rebelling against the Mexican government. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of Texas pride associated with this flag. The flag with the AR-15 has come to represent a belief that the government has gotten too big. More information about this flag can be found here.
Thin Blue Line flag: If you are like me, you associate this flag with the support for the police. With all that happened this summer related to police brutality in the U.S., it has come to represent, to some, support for such actions. In fact, I have witnessed it being used in opposition to a Black Lives Matter flag, as if to say that one is either for the police or for Black lives mattering and not both. In fact, the division this flag seems to create is a critique of it. Furthermore, I think it is important to know that it was flown by White Supremacists at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, although the creator of the flag disavows any association with those that flew it there. More information about the flag can be read here.
First adopted by the Tea Party, some militias now use this flag. It has come to represent opposition to government restrictions. It is called the Gadsden flag and it originated in the Revolutionary War as sort of a “come at me Bro” message to the British. Although, to be fair, the namesake of the flag was a slave owner, so to some it is seen as a symbol of racism. Recently though, some of the most violent and vehemently anti-government figures have recast the flag as a warning against the American government. Read more about this history of the flag here.
This is the flag of a white nationalist group that represents a satirical religion that involves the god of darkness and chaos. Specifically, the flag represents a made up sect of people who worship the Egyptian god of darkness, Kek. Its mascot is Pepe the frog (I promise, I am not making this up!) and is an alt-right hate symbol. More specifically, it is used to troll liberals online. More information about the flag can be found here.
Faith Over Fear flag: This flag claims that because one has faith, one does not need to be afraid. This flag is connected to Christianity. Unfortunately, it needs greater context and reminds me of some of what I’ve seen pop up during COVID-19. I don’t believe that this phrase means that because one has faith in God, one does not need to fear anything. As I’ve said and thought multiple times during the pandemic, God also gave us brains because God wants us to use them. I assume that this flag is NOT about giving greater context to the phrase but is rather representing that because one has faith, they need to fear what is going on. It is akin to saying, “It is all a part of the plan;” more information about it can be found here.
The phrase, “Release the Kraken” came from a Liam Neeson movie in 2010, the movie “Clash of the Titians.” It has come to be used, however, by conspiracy theorist that Trump won the 2020 election. He did not; it was a free and fair election. Click here for more information on that claim. I see the use of this symbol as another representation of the embracement of chaos and encouragement to fight, as an octopus flaying all of its arms would create quite a bit of chaos.
This is the Christian flag and makes me think of the Christian crusades when crusaders were sent to the Holy land to fight Muslims in order to regain control of the Holy land. These battles were often organized by those who saw themselves as Christians; although to be fair, they combined religion, politics, and war. “The effects, besides the obvious death, ruined lives, destruction and wasted resources, ranged from the collapse of the Byzantine Empire to a souring of relations and intolerance between religions and peoples in the East and West which still blights governments and societies today.” More information about the Crusades can be read here.
The United States of America Flag code stipulates that it can only be flown like this in situations of distress or emergency. See the above section related to the American flag for more details. When you see the flag being flown upside down, the message being sent is that there is a dire emergency happening.
The Tree flag, featuring a pine tree with the motto, “An Appeal to Heaven,” or sometimes, “An Appeal to God,” was used originally during the Revolutionary War. Specifically, it was flown by a squadron of six cruiser ships commissioned under George Washington’s authority as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in October 1775. The phrase, “an Appeal to Heaven,” was used by John Locke to claim that people have rights that cannot be infringed upon and was used to justify the revolution. It is a call to action to overthrow the government. More information about it can be found here.
Trump flag: So, given all I shared above about the other flags and how they may have different meanings to different people, and after witnessing the events of January 6, 2021, a question I have is, “What is the meaning of the Trump flag to you?”