Remember learning about the American flag in elementary school? Snore. Girls who dress up as Betsy Ross during historical hero days are the type to ask for more homework and develop caffeine pill addictions years later.

Nonetheless, I loved the flag as a kid; I knew I had won the home country lottery. After the planes demolished the World Trade Center, the flag was everywhere — a symbol of healing for a heartbroken people.

Then something changed. Red, white and blue transformed from uniter to divider. The flag became a symbol of revenge, a rallying cry for war. It began to feel like anyone who didn’t like the flag being used for that purpose was disrespecting the legacy of it and everyone who fought for it.

I avoided the flag then, because deciphering where I wanted my ’Merica to stand on the issue was confusing enough. Committing to waving the flag felt like committing to a side.

In the past several years, though, the American flag motif has gotten its carefree groove back. It’s hip to be a flag fan! Look no further than the masses of women at Red, White & Boom who wore DIY replicas of Solange Knowles’ Topshop flag shorts, which she wore in big sis Beyonce’s music video for “Party.”

Working the flag into decor is hot again, too. Myriad stores approved by Columbus connoisseurs of cool had a weathered one hanging vertically in their storefronts this past week (I love Brigade’s antiqued number best, pictured).

The weathered look is key. Avoid the pure nylon flags, lest one look like a Walmart bargain bin denizen. Polyester cotton blends or 100 percent cotton offer the best not-too-shiny stylish flag look. The best places to find these are at antique stores like the Short North’s Grandview Mercantile, The Flag Lady’s Flag Store (4567 N. High St.) and on Etsy.

Whatever the reason for the flag fashion trend, I like to think it’s again a sign of a fractured community coming together in hard times. And that’s a real reason to party in the USA.

· Objects of Desire is a biweekly column that explores the items Columbus shoppers crave. Follow Jackie Mantey at @Jackie_Mantey.

Photo by Tim Johnson