Created By: TallensJuly 3, 2013 Last Edited By: TallensJuly 27, 2013
Troped

Tattered Flag

A ruined flag means dark times for the nation it represents.

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Normally a flag flies proudly on the breeze as a declaration of the power and authority of its nation. To be fit for display, a flag should be intact and untarnished, and if it is not it is generally ceremonially destroyed. Sometimes, however, a flag will be displayed that is dirty, full of holes, or reduced to ribbons. When this occurs, it generally means that the nation it represents has fallen on hard times. Why else would they allow their standard to be shown this way?

Other times they can be used as a sign of defiance or hope. The country, though battered and torn, is still standing and will survive.

They are also commonly found in After The End settings or amidst the ruins of a fallen civilization.

Occasionally, flags like these can be kept and preserved if they are significant in some way, one that was present for a landmark event, for example.

Compare Burning The Flag, for when a flag is being deliberately destroyed.

Examples

Film
  • In The Dark Knight Rises as the police force gathers for the fight with Bane's people, ruined American flags are shown flying from nearby buildings.
  • The end of In The Valley Of Elah shows a tattered American flag being hung upside down, mirroring the beginning of the film.
  • In The Two Towers, the royal banners outside of Rohan's Golden Hall are so beat up, one of them gets torn off by the wind.
  • Can be seen in Logans Run where the Old Man lives in what used to be the U.S. Senate chamber.
  • The 1964 version of The First Men In The Moon has lunar astronauts discovering, to their astonishment, an old, worn out Union Jack left by Victorian age explorers.

Live Action TV
  • The Star Trek episode "The Omega Glory" shows an After The End version of Earth following a nuclear war, with one faction being descendants of their version of Americans, complete with a ruined Old Glory.
  • Savage Skies, a mid-'90s PBS documentary miniseries about severe weather, at one point showed a shredded but still flying Puerto Rican flag in the aftermath of Hurricane Luis.

Music
  • The Johnny Cash song "Ragged Old Flag" "I take that back, I'm mighty proud of that ragged old flag!"
  • Patti Smith's Broken Flag is also an exploration of this idea (the song is about the American Civil War)

Video Games
  • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim a skeleton can be found in Winterhold clutching a tattered flag, apparently from the last stand of the Knights of the Nine.
  • The title screen of Spec Ops The Line shows, among other things, an upside-down American flag that is seen in worse and worse condition as you progress through the game, amid an ever bleaker setting.
  • The Heroes Of Might And Magic III intro has one found and displayed in the ruins.
  • Left 4 Dead 2, The Sacrifice DLC campaign begins with the survivors trekking through a zombie infested dockyard that had been occupied by the military and FEMA expy CEDA with the camera prominently showcasing a tattered US flag flapping in the wind. Doubly significant because of the canon death of Bill, a Vietnam War veteran at the end of the campaign.
  • The second case occurs in the Warcraft series. Orc(and the Horde in general) flags are generally in tatters but are still proudly flown to symbolize how much of a beating they is willing to take in order to achieve victory.

Real Life
  • Several American flags, damaged to various degrees, that were recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center have been put on display, one of them even being shown at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
  • Another real life example would be the flag from Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Key Scott to write The Star Spangled Banner after seeing its tattered flag still flying after a 23 hour bombardment.The flag is huge, by the way. Currently, it's 30x34 feet, but was originally 42 feet long (though that is still 18 feet short of how long it should be, based on its height).
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 3, 2013
    SKJAM
    Music: The Johnny Cash song "Ragged Old Flag" "I take that back, I'm mighty proud of that ragged old flag!"
  • July 4, 2013
    AgProv
    Music: Patti Smith's Broken Flag is also an exploration of this idea (the song is about the American Civil War)
  • July 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Maybe Tattered Flag Symbolism, for clarity's sake.

    TV:
    • Savage Skies, a mid-'90s PBS documentary miniseries about severe weather, at one point showed a shredded but still flying Puerto Rican flag in the aftermath of Hurricane Luis.
  • July 7, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Another real life example would be the flag from Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Key Scott to write The Star Spangled Banner after seeing its tattered flag still flying after a 23 hour bombardment.

    The flag is huge, by the way. Currently, it's 30x34 feet, but was originally 42 feet long (though that is still 18 feet short of how long it should be, based on its height).
  • July 7, 2013
    CaptainPeregrin
    • In The Two Towers, the royal banners outside of Rohan's Golden Hall are so beat up, one of them gets torn off by the wind.
  • July 8, 2013
    AgProv
    In George Mac Donald Fraser's short stories The Sheikh and the Dustbin, a platoon of Gordon Highlanders is defending a strategic bridge against a mob of Libyan nationalists/Islamic fundamentalists. Seeking to scare off a mob that outnumbers his men by at least seven to one, Lieutenant Mc Neill (an expy of Mc Donald Fraser himself) orders selected soldiers to fire into the air over the crowd's head. One marksman tops this by deliberately firing at a flag being waved by one of the demonstrators, shattering the pole and causing the flag to fall back into the crowd.
  • July 8, 2013
    Omeganian
    The Heroes Of Might And Magic III intro has one found and displayed in the ruins.
  • July 9, 2013
    Folamh3
    For added detail on the Spec Ops The Line example, the flag is also hanging upside down, which is an internationally recognized symbol for a state of emergency.
  • July 11, 2013
    Goldfritha
    • One World War II propaganda poster depicted a tattered flag at half-mast, a quote from the Gettysburg Address and "Remember December 7th."

    You can see it here Might make a good page image
  • July 11, 2013
    Tallens
    What would that go under? Advertising?
  • July 14, 2013
    arbiter099
    Left 4 Dead 2, The Sacrifice DLC campaign begins with the survivors trekking through a zombie infested dockyard that had been occupied by the military and FEMA expy CEDA with the camera prominently showcasing a tattered US flag flapping in the wind. Doubly significant because of the canon death of Bill, a Vietnam War veteran at the end of the campaign
  • July 16, 2013
    Tallens
    Holding out for a few more examples.
  • July 24, 2013
    Tallens
    Five hats. A few more examples them ill see about launching this over the weekend.
  • July 24, 2013
    Worlder
    The second case occurs in the Warcraft series. Orc(and the Horde in general) flags are generally in tatters but are still proudly flown to symbolize how much of a beating they is willing to take in order to achieve victory.
  • July 27, 2013
    Tallens
    Few more last minute examples?
  • July 27, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable