In 1969, when anti-Viet Nam fervor was sweeping the country, a friend of mine named Sam Day joined in one of the protest marches in Boise, Idaho.

What you need to know about Sam was that he was a liberal. Top to bottom, he wasn’t just a Democrat, he was A liberal! He published a small weekly newspaper in Idaho that was required political reading; even in a state where the only other real liberal is, by now, likely stuffed and on display at the state museum.

For this one march up Capitol Boulevard to the Idaho Statehouse, Sam chose to wear a shirt his wife had made; a shirt with a likeness of the American flag across the back. This little nebbish of a guy with a Rocky Mountain backbone, chose to make his patriotism known; at that moment; in that place; in that way.

As marchers noisily but peacefully neared the Statehouse, several cops descended on this one small figure; Sam and Sam alone. He was arrested and marched off to jail, charged with desecrating the American flag.

I hadn’t thought much about that moment in the ensuing 41 years. Until a few days ago. When Roseburg had it’s own little version of the Tea Party whining.

As .006% of Douglas County, Oregon, gathered on the steps of the courthouse … a courthouse ironically enough designed by a Boise architect … Sam came suddenly to mind. The reason was the speaker of the moment: State Senator Jeff Kruse, a man of no uncertain conservative Republican credentials. He was pointing out the crowd shouldn’t be talking about guns and violence saying “This is not a revolution of guns and violence … though I do have a gun.”

Did unnecessary and some would say threatening talk like that remind me of Sam? No.

No, it was more what Senator Kruze was wearing during his excoriating. It was this top-to-bottom American flag shirt with red, white and blue striped sleeves. It was a true knock-off!

And my friend, the dear departed Sam? Well, ol’ Sam would have been proud. Sam would have liked the whiff of rebellion in the air, the protesting, the placards. The exercise of the American way.

But most of all, that diehard liberal would have felt a kinship with the good Sen. Kruze.

But just sartorially speaking, of course. And only for a moment.

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