Scott A. Sandage

Scott Sandage is a cultural historian at Carnegie Mellon University who specializes in the nineteenth-century United States and in the changing aspects of American identity. He is the author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America (Harvard University Press, 2005), and was recently named as one of America's Top Young Historians by the History News Network.

Updated January 2010

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Old Rags, Some Grand

“These Colors Don’t Run,” I keep reading. Small wonder, after six months holding on by a thread to a speeding Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer. There used to be some rule about burning a flag when it gets torn or dirty. Does this mean it would be patriotic to torch a sport utility vehicle?­

By spring, the flags of September 11 looked like veterans of Ground Zero. Even Presidents’ Day sales could not move overstocks of red, white, and blue stickers, magnets, mugs, and mittens. Twenty-six stripes for the price of thirteen! Patriotism’s pan had flashed. Again.

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