Life Archive | Stars and Stripes | A Continuous Lean.

Life Archive | Stars and Stripes

Sep 25th, 2009 | Categories: LIFE | by Michael Williams

That’s America right there — a nice big fella in head-to-toe khaki standing in front of a beat up American flag. If I knew this gentleman I would buy him a beer and ask him about his days in the big one. As I powered through the Life Archive I keep coming back to photos with Old Glory in them. As it turns out, being young and patriotic is on the up-and-up, so it seems my timing is right on. Enjoy some stars and stripes before you head out for the weekend.















Comments: 31

31 Comments to “Life Archive | Stars and Stripes”

  1. Nick
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 3:27 PM

    Not very “Navy” of him to have his gig line off that much though, is it? That one on the balcony? Too good.

  2. Ryan
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 3:32 PM

    Hey, these photos look great.

    Where’d you find em?

  3. Michael Williams
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 3:37 PM

    Engineered Garments catalog. Surprised I didn’t see them on your site already…

  4. Chenners
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 4:15 PM

    Michael, thanks again for inspiring the story with your “America F**k Yeah!” post. It was fun to pull together.



  5. Mat
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 4:43 PM

    I’m no expert, but it would appear that some of those flags are being displayed “incorrectly.” Aren’t stars supposed to be on the left when being hung vertically or mounted to a wall? The negative seems like it’s the right way round, so it’s not reversed…

  6. ChessGuy
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 5:05 PM

    Being patriotic never goes, and has never gone, out of style. It’s just the leftists and their ideology, liberalism, that have deceived too many people into thinking that somehow, there’s something wrong with the natural human condition of feeling an emotional attachment to your country and its people.

    You don’t need an excuse to proudly display Old Glory, but national holidays are always a good reason. Labor Day this month, Columbus Day next month, and Veteran’s Day in November are all excellent times to put our flag up.

  7. Thomas
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 6:05 PM

    I believe you will find that the gentleman in the first photo is standing on the USS Missouri during the ceremony where the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed, ending World War II. The flag in question was the flag that flew on Commodore Matthew Perry’s ship when it entered Tokyo Harbor in 1853, which was flew out to be present at the ceremony. The conservator at the Naval Academy Museum, which had the flag, ordered a cover sewn on it’s front face, so what you are actually seeing is the back side of the flag, which is why it looks backwards.

    The Wikipedia article on “Japanese Instrument of Surrender” has a section on the flag, and a good photo of it. No idea who the officer is in the photo, however.

  8. sam
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 6:38 PM

    ok, i get it…you like 1950s americana and david gray…

  9. B.R.
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 6:49 PM


    Sell me some clothes.

  10. cw
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 11:18 PM

    you fail. these are great pictures. if you can’t appreciate that don’t come to this site.

  11. Andrea
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 11:47 PM

    It’s good to be reminded that there was life before endemic irony. I don’t know about where *you* live, but as I was driving to work on September 12, 2001, I saw a lot of people putting up flags any way they could; pinning them to fences or porches, cobbling together flag poles from scraps of lumber and duct tape. I did the same thing myself when I got home that night.

  12. Bogart
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 12:46 AM

    Trying to understand this post.

  13. Russell Sprouts
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 2:42 AM

    @Bogart – Yeah me too. Apparently there is some “flag” thing in all these pictures, but I’m just not seeing it?


    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 9:18 AM

    The guy in the first photo is Admiral John Shafroth, who led the USN task force that bombed Japan.

    I’m surprised there’s no tribute to Ralph Lauren and the long-forgotten controversy when he first put the US flag on a sweater.

  15. Zach
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:02 AM

    Liberalism existed in this country before we had a flag and it is older than communism or conservatism. The idea of universal human rights comes from Liberalism. You can express your patriotism by flying a flag, but a flag is just a symbol. If you want to be truly patriotic, you should try to understand what that symbol represents. Patriotism demands as much thought as emotion.

  16. ktm
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 2:18 PM

    The American Flag is a thing of beauty… thanks for this. Such great photos.

  17. Nick
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:36 PM

    Here here, Zach. The last line of your comment is especially sharp.

    Although I must say the photos are beautiful.

  18. Brendan
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:45 PM

    My grandfather never wanted to sit down and have a beer to discuss his war stories. From what I have heard war is not romantic.

  19. Brendan
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:46 PM

    Also, that photo with the group of African-Americans is a bit ironic.

  20. Brendan
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:48 PM

    Jesus, and the McNamara photo too.

  21. Michael Williams
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 11:51 PM

    Brendan — The African-Americans with the flag were watching the RFK funeral train, if that makes it “less ironic” for you. Also, ever seen The Fog of War? —ACL

  22. Brendan
    on Sep 27th, 2009
    @ 3:21 AM

    Kennedy’s involvement in the civil rights movement was minimal. And his support for King and Chavez was largely politically motivated due to the changing cultural climate around the turn of the mid-sixties. King was seen as an agitator by the White House during and even sometime after JFK’s administration – his large-scale protests were considered a threat to the slow-paced ineffective legislation of proposed black suffrage and de-segregation by RFK that was used to moderate the largely racist Democratic South from jumping ship. That is the irony I see in this photo, taken in context. We see the very people who supported RFK giving a larger gesture than he ever gave to them.

    I did see “The Fog of War”, and have read “Promise and Power” as well. While I understand McNamara quasi-confessed to his Tonkin miscalculation in his later writings and in the film, it does not take away from the fact that he deliberately withheld information regarding the falsity of the incident to Johnson at the onset of the crisis. He essentially manipulated the truth to push ahead his own strategic war plan he developed during the Cuban missile crisis. Should I then change my opinion due to his own admittance of error confessed decades later? I think that’s a question left to be answered by almost 2 million lives.

    On another note, this whole “Love it or Leave it” rhetoric is interpreted in so many ways that it constitutes as utter bullshit. Where is freedom when there is no dissent? Since when did that sort of groupthink crap enter the individualistic spirit we always call home about? And what does the term “love” extend to beyond the nationalistic approach?

  23. Michael Williams
    on Sep 27th, 2009
    @ 7:47 AM

    Brendan — couldn’t this time be better spent on one of your UCONN poly sci classes? Your comments only make me think of this:

  24. Brendan
    on Sep 27th, 2009
    @ 3:48 PM

    Haha, pretty much, minus the Boston accent.

    I didn’t really mean to delve too much into the fact. I have nothing really against your blog and your posts are usually pretty interesting and entertaining, despite the differences.

    I guess the main focus should be the aesthetic quality of the photos, I was more or less reacting to the comments following the them.

  25. Nick
    on Sep 28th, 2009
    @ 1:12 PM

    “I guess the main focus should be the aesthetic quality of the photos …”


    This is ultimately what I find troubling about this blog (which, nonetheless, is a great big guilty pleasure) and the million-odd others like it — it is impossible to really look at these images on purely aesthetic grounds, and for good reason. They have historic importance and meaning. Those are real people, not models posing for our pure, disassociated aesthetic pleasure.

    And I don’t really understand the snappy tone these comments so often take (both directed toward, and returned by Mr. Williams). I found the historical context interesting in all comments that brought elements of it up, and if anything adding richness to the experience of looking at the photos.

  26. Michael Williams
    on Sep 28th, 2009
    @ 1:19 PM

    Nick — I might have to change ACL’s strapline to “disassociated aesthetic pleasure” as that what I seem to do best.

  27. Brendan
    on Sep 28th, 2009
    @ 3:06 PM

    Nick, to be fair, that was a comment of my own, not one stated by Mr. Williams or anyone else who commented. And I think the blog does give historical context to its posts more often than not(i.e. the Levis interview). I regret bringing the topic off course, as my comments did not really supplement the photos themselves. Thomas’ comments are more of an example of what you might appreciate, and rightly so.

  28. Julian
    on Oct 1st, 2009
    @ 9:15 PM

    “The guy in the first photo is Admiral John Shafroth, who led the USN task force that bombed Japan.” Great guy! I can see all the burned cities and bodies. Maybe that’s for your next photo sequence.

  29. Mazama
    on Oct 11th, 2009
    @ 5:52 PM

    Julian. Speak Japanese? No? You’re welcome.

  30. Classics Patriot
    on Oct 11th, 2009
    @ 10:45 PM


    Ever hear of Pearl Harbor? Ever hear of Japan’s numerous atrocities during WWII, like Unit 731 (which conducted Mengele-like experiments on humans), “Comfort Women” (who were foreign women forced into sex slavery), and the Bataan Death March?

    Sometimes, death and destruction are a country’s just desserts. And you know what else? Sometimes, America isn’t in the wrong for causing death and destruction. (I’d say almost never, but that’s just me.)

  31. Matt
    on Nov 25th, 2009
    @ 5:58 PM

    A book out there titled along the lines of “At Rest” or something like that documents soldiers and sailors in WWII wel, at rest. Baseball, cards, basketball, writing letters, etc. It documents the down time in WWII, the enormous amounts of mind-numbing boredom…the “hurry up and wait.” But for anyone interested in the details of real good old-fashioned patriotic images, this is great.