[Indistinct shouting] [Crowd chanting "USA"] So, watching January 6...
The Capitol riot event was...
It was on in the background.
I wasn't really paying that much attention to it.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] Man on radio: There's a group of individuals, about 5-8.
They had Glock-style pistols in their waistbands.
Man: Then around noon, as the crowd began to assemble at the Capitol, I began to pay-- pay more attention.
[Indistinct shouting] [Glass shattering] Man 2: I remember walking through one of the security posts of--officer.
She's listening to the radio.
I just said, "Is it happening?"
Woman on radio: I've got 3 men walking down the street carrying AR-15.
Man: There was certainly a point where I thought I might have to actually use a weapon.
[Indistinct shouting] Woman: That was when I realized a yellow flag.
Man on radio: They have an elevated threat.
Look for the "Don't Tread on Me" flag.
Man: You don't tread on me.
I have a right to overthrow that government.
That was the Gadsden flag.
[Indistinct shouting] ♪ ♪ ♪ Rubenstein, voice-over: For more than 100 years, there have been protests on the Ellipse.
Generally, they've ended peacefully.
People go back to their homes.
But on the case of January 6th, we had a very violent outcome.
[Crowd chanting "Stop the steal"] [Boom] Man 2: Aah!
Man 1: People marched from the Ellipse up to the Capitol, and they said, "Don't tread on me," and they used a symbol of that, which was the Gadsden flag.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] I know the Capitol well.
I spent years working here.
So, understanding January 6 is personal.
But what is the Gadsden flag and who was the man behind it-- Christopher Gadsden?
Woman: So, the Gadsden flag, we have a yellow flag with a... Coiled snake with its tongue sticking out.
At the bottom, you can read... "Don't tread on me," you know, "or I'll bite ya."
Is the Gadsden flag a good flag?
Well, that's kind of complicated.
[Woman chanting "Kill the bill"] Man: It can serve multiple political purposes for different groups, because it does speak to this idea of a universal.
You know, this idea of "don't tread on me."
But when actor Chris Pratt wore a shirt with the flag, Yahoo!
ran an article suggesting the shirt choice reflected, quote, "White supremacy."
Woman: One of America's most well-known symbols is being blasted as racist.
Man: It absolutely has been hijacked, but it always has been.
Like any cultishly popular symbol, everyone's gonna reappropriate it for their own purposes.
Man 2: The Gadsden flag can represent America and the independent pride and everything and yet be divisive at the same time.
It was just this contrast, this conflict that was just a part of how we created this nation.
Man: I don't view it as a political flag.
It's a war flag, in my opinion.
It has to do with race, but it's aimed at the government.
This is a symbol of hate.
There's no redeeming it anymore.
One city council member said that this flag, which was presented by Colonel Thomas Gadsden of the Continental Army and the Continental Congress to the Congress in 1776, was like the Nazi flag.
At the end of the day, flags want to bring about reactions, and that's what the Gadsden flag is doing still.
Rubenstein, voice-over: I live in DC, and you can't go a block in DC without seeing a half-dozen flags.
Flags are clearly an important part of what it means to be an American.
But why is that?
Why do we care so much about a piece of cloth?
Woman: Flags are like a human impulse.
There's no other way that we've found to create a tangible or a visual artifact that could show emotions, that could depict how we feel and how we belong.
And for Americans, flags are really about patriotism and pride.
All: I pledge allegiance to the flag... Neil Armstrong: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Man: How many Supreme Court cases have there been about model trains, and how many soldiers have risked their lives on the battlefield for a stamp?
But the, you know, flags have seen both of those things.
♪ Rubenstein: There are many extraordinary institutions in Washington.
One of my favorites is the Library of Congress.
Man: You're Mr. Rubenstein, aren't you?
[Laughs] Rubenstein: That's me.
I retired from the library.
Rubenstein: OK. Woman: The Library of Congress has grown to 170 million items, the world's largest library.
It was modeled after an Italian palace to show that in this country, we build palaces to knowledge.
This is the Gutenberg Bible.
It is the earliest example of moveable type, and this particular copy is one of only 3 in the world.
So, this is about the most valuable book you can get, right?
Rubenstein, voice-over: Inside, you can find answers to history's most important questions and maybe clues to understanding the Gadsden flag.
This is the earliest print that we have here at the Library of Congress, from 1779, and as you can see, a rattlesnake is entwined and ready to bite the European powers.
The rattlesnake or the serpent was about the most feared animal, I guess, at the time.
That's why it was a symbol of-- Well, Europe didn't have exotic, venomous snakes like America, and so, it was feared.
Where are we now in the Library of Congress?
Right now, we're in the James Madison Memorial Building.
So, you have humidity control and other things here?
It's a climate- controlled vault, and this is where all of our gold-level collection items are stored.
We'll be having a look at this item.
This is the "Pennsylvania Gazette" from 1754.
"Join, or die."
So, this is the original Benjamin Franklin drawing of Yes.
a serpent cut in pieces.
So, this was the first political cartoon published in America.
And what you'll see is all of these colonies are represented in 8 pieces.
Man: Rattlesnakes were these sort of defensive creatures by nature.
There was a certain appeal to that, this idea that we are gonna take the high ground, this defensive position, but if you mess with us, then we will come out fighting.
And so, that has this sort of colonial frontier, sort of rough around the edges characteristic that many of these colonists saw themselves as possessing.
[Streetcar rumbling] Rubenstein, voice-over: To discover the origins of the Gadsden flag, I traveled to New Orleans to visit an old friend-- historian Walter Isaacson.
Let me show you something from the Benjamin Franklin reader.
This is his own writings.
This is when he's, like, a young teenager writing for his brother's newspaper and he writes, "I'm a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power."
The history of the Gadsden flag is intertwined with one of the most remarkable individuals in America-- Benjamin Franklin.
When we think of Ben Franklin, we think of a doddering old guy flying a kite in the rain.
We have to remember he was once young.
From an early age, he's writing about individual rights and liberties but also how we as Americans don't let our rights and liberties get trampled.
When Benjamin Franklin writes this, he's a very loyal British citizen.
He definitely is loyal to the British.
He's raising money to help the British fight the French and Indian War.
All of them are on the side of the British as they fight the French and the Indians.
Man: Ben Franklin's a thinker and he's one of the chief proponents and advocates of this idea of the colonies coming together for a common defense.
Isaacson: Most people in the colonies had never visited any of the other colonies.
They didn't believe they had a relationship.
But Franklin, he'd moved up and down, from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania to Virginia, and he was able to see the colonies as something that could eventually form a union.
Jeffries: In order to spread this idea, in order to convince folk who haven't been thinking about a common American identity, a common colonial identity, he comes up with this image of a snake divided into these various parts above the slogan "Join," comma, "or die."
We either work together in common cause or we perish.
Rubenstein: Well, it may have worked, because the colonies did work together with the British and, ultimately, the French and Indian War was won by the British.
And the cartoon helps create this notion that we're going to be a union.
Rubenstein, voice-over: If "Join, or die" was a call for unity, then how did it change to "Don't Tread on Me"?
Jeffries: After the French and Indian War, which the British have essentially bankrolled, and they're like, "But that war was expensive."
And so, they say, "Well, look, you know, "this was a war that was fought in North America.
"We're gonna tax these folk.
That's how we're gonna raise some money."
Isaacson: You have this rising rebellion against taxation and against England, epitomized by the Sons of Liberty, and this is people like Sam Adams and John Hancock, and they're fighting to boycott any British goods, to terrorize any tax collectors, and they were actually very violent.
[Indistinct shouting] Isaacson: They tarred and feathered different tax collectors.
They had the Tree of Liberty, where they would hang in effigy the tax collectors and force them to resign.
Jeffries: The Sons of Liberty wind up merging out of Massachusetts and then spreading in different sort of cells, different sort of groups.
These are American merchants who are upset, who don't want to pay these taxes.
They begin to target those parliamentary officials, those British officials appointed by the crown, with violence.
They're not shying away from saying, "Hey," you know, "if the rattlesnake, right, if you come at us, we're gonna bite you."
England closing in, cutting off our air.
Isaacson: The British backed down on a lot of the taxes but leaves one set of duties, which is on tea.
And the Sons of Liberty said, "That's unacceptable."
And so, a group of them, dressed up as Native Americans, go dump huge amounts of tea into the Boston Harbor.
Jeffries: After the Boston Tea Party, those tax collectors, they bend the knee not to the crown, but they bend the knee to the Sons of Liberty.
They bend the knee to this mob.
Isaacson: And you see this beginning of this notion of American "Don't tread on me" mentality that you don't attack us.
We're pretty benign but if you come after us, we're vigilant and we'll strike back.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] Woman: We are gathered today to declare anew our independence.
Man: Thousands of people came out to protest government spending.
Man 2: We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July.
All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm gonna start organizing.
[Person whistles] [Crowd chanting "USA"] Rubenstein, voice-over: "Don't Tread on Me," the motto of the Gadsden flag.
For many of us, that phrase brings to mind a more recent event-- the Tea Party.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] Man: After the 2008 election, I wasn't anti-Obama, because I'm never anti-the new president.
I'm like, "Well, let's see what happens."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I will sign today is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.
Kibbe: At that point, absolutely.
It became "We're opposing Obama's agenda because that's the fight that we have to fight."
[Crowd cheering] Man: Waving American flags and slamming socialism, Tea Party rallies across the country tonight.
They have to represent us.
They have to take our best interests and they're not doing that.
We are really sick and tired of being sold out by our federal and state government.
On Wednesday, groups will gather all across the country to send a message to the federal government.
Kibbe: That, of course, was sort of a rebirth of what I would call founding principles, right?
Man: The bailout loaned or guaranteed the banks some $7.7 trillion.
Kibbe: What was the British monopoly on tea if nothing similar to a Wall Street bailout?
And when they saw the Wall Street bailout, they're like, "Wow, that violates all of my values.
"We gotta do something.
I don't know what to do, so, I'm gonna show up."
Man: Wake up, America.
Crowd: Wake up, America.
Woman: I would rather have the first 50 people in the phone book run our country rather than what's up there right now.
The spending, the spending, the spending, the--I mean, it's gotta stop.
The government is out of control.
It's spending money it doesn't have.
And it's getting involved in things that they have no experience accomplishing.
Man on P.A.
: We're doing this for your future.
We're doing this for you.
Kibbe: Organizing citizens against tyrannical government is very much part of the American tradition.
It's the Boston Tea Party.
And what was interesting about the Tea Party was it galvanized those Americans on the fence to be more pro-freedom.
This radical idea that the king didn't own us, we owned ourselves.
That if you don't tread on me, I won't tread on you.
Man: A protest rally is just about to get underway to demonstrate against government spending under the Obama administration.
Kibbe: I remember standing on the stage on 9/12/2009 kinda like, "Holy ####.
What just happened?"
There was a sea of yellow, and the powerful thing about the Gadsden flag is it's so bright, it's so vivid, the imagery is so powerful.
It's the perfect explanation of the American ethos, but I didn't know there were that many Gadsden flags.
There was no memo that said, "Bring the Gadsden flag."
They just did it.
[Cheering and applause] Rubenstein, voice-over: The flag's motto has special meaning for Americans.
But what about the flag itself?
♪ I like flags.
I'm fascinated by flags.
I have a lot of flags.
[Laughs] This is a 13-star flag from the 18th century.
This is the house flag of the White Star Line, which is the line that owned the "Titanic."
And this is the flag of the Flat Earth Research Society.
This is the flag of Juneteenth.
That's when the U.S. Army issued a proclamation that slavery had been abolished.
And this, of course, is the Gadsden flag... which was the standard of the Continental Navy at the beginning of the revolution, and it was also presented by Mr. Gadsden to the South Carolina Assembly.
The Gadsden flag was created during the Revolutionary War.
In those days, the flag was a symbol of the nation that was flown aboard ships.
You had to fly a flag or else you were a pirate.
So, when we decided to revolt against the British, we commissioned ships to go to sea to fight them, we had to have a symbol.
After the Boston Tea Party, the British decide they're gonna blockade Boston Harbor.
So, this is the beginning of real hostilities.
Jeffries: Shots have been fired.
And people are coming together now to say, "OK, what do we do?
You know, "How do we respond?"
There is no going back.
Ansoff: Well, the Continental Congress was an assembly made up of representatives from the 13 colonies and it was effectively the government of the United States.
The part that interests us, of course, is that they decided in October of 1775 that they were going to need a navy.
Isaacson: They create a navy in order to protect trade.
And that navy has, as its symbol, the rattlesnake.
Man: The first Marines land with this flag in a raid on the Bahamas in February.
It is seen with the South Carolina Navy also.
It seems to express our feelings.
Ansoff: "Colonel Gadsden presented to the Congress "an elegant standard, such as to be used "by the Commander in Chief of the American Navy, "being a yellow field with a lively representation "of a rattlesnake in the middle "in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, "Don't Tread on Me.""
Those are the definitive words of what we know about the Gadsden flag.
This was a way to fire people up and get them on board for the cause.
That's something that the soldiers would understand and look up to because that's-- their job is defend.
Don't let people trample on them.
♪ Man: This is the flag we carried in 2012.
I've had many versions of this flag but this one represents a little piece of all the people who were in that platoon.
♪ Something I found, you know, throughout my time in the military is that units love to have some kind of symbol.
Every unit in the military has some kind of flag, something that represented the team.
My name's Joe Morrissey.
I'm currently serving as a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army.
I've been in for 14, going on 15 years now.
My name is Mike McGuinness.
I'm studying to go into law school.
I am a freelance writer and anti-war veteran.
[Gunfire] Man: Go!
Everybody thinks of us in the military as the type to just follow rules.
I wasn't the type to just follow rules blindly.
Man: Let's go.
Morrissey: All of us had different reasons for why we joined the military, but I don't think anybody was as passionate about it as James Twist.
By the time he graduated high school, he was like the highest level, an Eagle Scout.
You know, that was the kind of stuff that he grew up doing.
He was so passionate about it.
He was like my little brother.
The entire platoon was just this weird group of dudes that--and, really, even though we had our own squads and stuff, like we all, like, hung out together.
So, in order to be more obnoxious, we had to have our own flag, and that's where the Gadsden flag came from.
Morrissey: And when I first laid eyes on the Gadsden flag, it was immediate.
It was, you know, instant, that's us.
I don't think anything could've more summarized how we felt going into the hostile situation in this counterinsurgency fight that we knew we were going to face.
It was a no-brainer that that's what we were gonna carry with us.
It was supposed to, you know, just mean not oppressing people.
It's as simple as that.
It's "I get liberty or I die trying to achieve it."
The first day that we were in country, we lined up and took a photo with it, you know, and this was like our squad photo, something to be proud of.
And every compound we'd enter, every time we'd breach a doorway of somewhere, if we had a second to breathe, they'd be like, "Hey, somebody got a camera?
I wanna take a picture."
And it was us asserting that we had taken this position and we're gonna hold this ground and don't tread on me.
McGuinness: These guys were young, they're in their early twenties.
So, for them, this flag was just, like, something that they did.
You know, it's something that we carried around.
You know, we took a couple pictures, not knowing the meaning behind the flag.
It was starting to shift at that point.
Man: The couple shot officers at point blank range, then covered the bodies with a swastika and a Gadsden flag.
Woman: We've seen an uptick in extremist activity in America over the last 12 to 13 years.
Man: The suspect accused of killing 3 Pittsburgh police officers this month was a gun enthusiast, an anti-government racist who found motivation on White supremacist websites.
Altier: We've had the legalization of gay marriage.
We've had increasing abortion rights.
We have increasing minority populations.
And so, some people see that as challenging their-- either their privilege or their traditional way of life.
Man: A majority of Americans say the country is on the wrong track.
Second man: It cites rising unemployment, illegal immigration, fear of gun control, and the election of America's first Black president.
Altier: They're angry about what they perceive as injustice or changing societal norms.
The ideologies help them make sense of what's going on in the world and their personal or societal situation.
Man: They don't surround us.
We surround them.
This is our country.
[Crowd cheering] Kibbe: If you look at Tea Party rallies after the 2010 election, it's a totally different vibe.
And, unfortunately, that, in my mind, it was kind of the beginning of the end, because you had a lot of folks showing up at this point that are just more angry.
[Crowd booing] Woman: Hell no, we won't go!
Send him back to Kenya.
Jeffries: When we think about the political rhetoric of political conservatives and the Tea Party, it took on a absolutely different tone under the Barack Obama administration.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] Woman: He was born Muslim.
He was raised Muslim.
Woman: He was born in Kenya.
[Crowd chants "USA"] Man: I've never seen any evidence of his Christianity.
I think there's a great possibility that he's a Muslim.
If you have a Muslim father, then the offspring are Muslims.
Man: We do this for your future!
We do this for you!
Jeffries: We see racism and anti-government politics coming to a head in a way that we hadn't seen in a long time.
Man: The Iowa Tea Party purchased a billboard comparing Barack Obama to Hitler and Vladimir Lenin.
Obama: I don't know how passing healthcare will play politically, but I know it's right.
[Crowd cheering] Teddy Roosevelt knew it was right.
Harry Truman knew it was right.
Ted Kennedy knew it was right.
[Crowd cheering] [Crowd booing] Rubenstein, voice-over: In 2010, there was a Tea Party rally at the Capitol.
Do you have a sense from listening to that rally and the people there that they were as much interested in being anti-Black as they were anti-Obamacare?
They were anti-Obama.
The Obamacare they didn't care about.
Look at what happened in Kentucky.
They got Obamacare in Kentucky, they called it something else.
Everybody loved it.
So, it was all about Obama.
Man: During the healthcare debate, the racial epithets allegedly hurled at Black members of Congress by Tea Party members.
[Crowd shouting indistinctly] Kibbe: It's definitely heated.
I've seen the footage.
Like, it's definitely heated.
And it's become very partisan and the activists are against the legislation and the congressmen walking down the stairs are for it, but the accusation was, amongst other things, a political cudgel to beat up the Tea Party with.
[Crowd shouting indistinctly] Rubenstein: Did you see any of this?
I was two steps from him when people were yelling racial epithets.
I saw Cleaver and I saw people jeering at him.
He told us when we got to the floor that someone spat at him.
Crowd: You will not replace us!
Jeffries: You look at the rhetoric, right?
They're taking my country from me.
Like, what's being tread upon becomes the question.
Well, my rights.
Your rights as what?
My rights as an American.
I'm a true American, I'm a true patriot.
It is a pro-White rally.
Heritage has everything to do with race.
Altier: The Gadsden flag initially, you know, had to do with this idea of don't tread on me, all Americans, but I think over time it's been misappropriated and used by these movements.
And this idea of zero-sum conflict, right, this idea that if you--if you benefit, then I'm going to lose, I think that really appeals to them.
Newscaster: White Nationalists and other far-right groups... Jeffries: Don't tread on me.
I have a right to revolution.
I have a right to my freedom.
It really is the height of irony as well as hypocrisy because most people think about the Gadsden flag and this idea of sort of liberty and this idea of a fierce independence and challenging government overreach, but we don't think about the other legacy, what Gadsden also represented in Charleston, South Carolina.
♪ Rubenstein: I've been to Charleston many times in my life, but I've never been here.
Where actually are we in Charleston?
Yeah, we--Charleston is a peninsula.
We are on the Cooper River side, the east side of the peninsula, and we're on a spot that was known as Gadsden's Wharf.
Originally, this was just marsh.
It was all sort of swampy, marsh area.
And in 1767, when Christopher Gadsden started building this, he went out and got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pine logs to create the actual wharf.
It was an enormous space that actually went back a quarter of a mile back west.
It was the largest wharf in the Colonies, in the American Colonies.
Man: Christopher Gadsden was one of the first people to really advocate the idea of separating politically, economically, culturally from what had been called for many years the Mother Country.
And so, he was one of the first and one of the loudest voices calling for a political separation from England.
Jeffries: As the revolution began to heat up, as the rhetoric of independence and revolution began to heat up, Christopher Gadsden not only joins the Sons of Liberty, but he's essentially the head of the Sons of Liberty in Charleston, South Carolina.
Butler: The people that we would consider in South Carolina to be the Sons of Liberty, they were what we would now call middle class, and they're struggling to create a larger body of rights and privileges for the middle class.
They were not the people of Gadsden's ilk.
And we have to remember that Gadsden was a very wealthy man.
He was not a tradesman, but he saw that their struggle for middle-class civil rights in the 1760s would be aligned with his political mission.
Jeffries: Christopher Gadsden is a very vocal proponent, very aggressive politically, but he is also a plantation owner.
And if you're a plantation owner in South Carolina, that means you are an enslaver, and that's exactly what Christopher Gadsden was.
This is what he did.
And he is one of the people who will, you know, say that "Hey, this flag represents us."
This is more than just ironic, more than just complicated and complex, right?
It really is hypocrisy.
Moore: This became the spot where almost half of all the enslaved Africans who came to the United States, where they landed.
Rubenstein: And so, in any given day, how many slaves would likely come to Gadsden's Wharf?
In the last two years of the transatlantic slave trade, 1806 to 1808, it's said that about 40,000 enslaved Africans were brought here.
♪ As a South Carolinian, I've often thought about what the legacy of Christopher Gadsden is.
He was a conservative man, but he was also extremely idealistic.
He saw injustice, or what he viewed as injustice, and railed against what he considered to be the mistreatment of Americans, including himself, by the British government.
But he owned slaves.
He purchased slaves.
He sold slaves.
So, it's hard to confine him to a box and describe him in one sentence.
Jeffries: There's a very good reason why a lot of the language is about charging parliament, and then eventually King George, with trying to make American colonists slaves, right?
That's the relationship, right?
Nobody has a better understanding of the relationship between being a free person and being an enslaved person than people who are holding people in bondage.
♪ Rubenstein: As we stand where Gadsden Wharf was, what does it mean to you personally, as a man who is of African-American descent and whose ancestors came to this spot?
Yeah, it's powerful.
You know, I love this city, but I'm also aware of just the atrocities that occurred here.
And I think, for me, that is sort of an analogy, a broader analogy about how African-Americans engage.
This is the only country we know.
We've been disconnected from our history in Africa, you know?
Many people believe that, you know, African-Americans built this country in a large way, and so, there's a sense of ownership, but yet even in still, this country has not really always embraced us and accepted us as full citizens and as equal people with agency over our lives and our future.
So, it's complicated.
Rubenstein, voice-over: This is the tragedy at the core of the American experience.
What began as a fight for the freedom of a select few became a fight for the many.
Jeffries: One of the things that emerges out of the American Revolutionary era is this idea of the right and the righteousness of political violence for a just cause.
We see, for example, enslaved and free Blacks calling for the use of violence to end the institution of slavery and using the rhetoric of the American Revolution.
We want freedom by any means necessary.
Jeffries: Fast forward a century into the civil rights movement.
We see African-Americans again using the language.
We think about the rattlesnake assuming a defensive posture, but we can also think about the Black Panthers and the resonance of that symbol.
Cats being peaceful animals until they're backed into a corner and then they come out fighting for life or death.
This is very American.
What that means is that political violence is actually in our DNA.
[All chanting indistinctly] Jeffries: Violence is terrible, period and point blank.
But there were many instances where the only recourse to maintaining one's actual liberty is through the use of violence.
Now, some people resort to violence because of perceived harm, harm that wasn't done... [Tires screeching] Reporter: A horrific scene in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A White Nationalist rally that descended into deadly violence and chaos.
Jeffries: but they think was done.
And that, I think, we need to render a different judgment for.
[Gunfire] Reporter: It's now been 10 years since the start of the war in Afghanistan.
Reporter 2: The cost of this longest war has been numbing.
Reporter 3: It seems unclear when this war will truly end.
Walley: The Gadsden flag, it was supposed to go against everything that the Taliban stood for-- human rights abuses, just everything.
It was supposed to represent, hopefully, the free will of the people.
You know, James Twist, he loved that flag.
He loved the camaraderie behind it.
He loved to feel like he was a part of something bigger.
♪ McGuinness: Twist thought that by joining the military, he would be able to effect a positive change.
I'm like, "Bro, come on."
And James is like, "No, look, we're building a school outside Garaban."
Rubenstein, voice-over: For a young army recruit full of idealism, the Gadsden flag can have incredible power.
But the reality of war is often more complicated than the ideals of the flag.
[Dog barking] Morrissey: We were in a village where there was this motorcycle that was riding around in the area.
Walley: We didn't have much time to react.
And I went to go cut around the corner of the building, the same path that we had all just walked in on.
They ended up detonating a IED off to the right of me.
[Gunfire] Morrissey: James was the first guy that ran up on Sam and, you know, immediately started, you know, rendering aid to him.
You know, you kind of look up at the sky.
At the time, I had a little girl on the way, a daughter.
You know, just looking down at Sam, the first thing that came to my mind is, you know, he doesn't have either leg and he's missing an arm.
♪ McGuinness: What Twist did, you know, it saved Sam's life.
He was down in there, like throwing tourniquets on and, you know, trying to keep Sam calm.
Clear, clear, clear!
Morrissey: As he's getting loaded onto this aircraft and he's gonna be flown away, and you're instantly wondering, "Is this the last time I'm ever gonna see this guy?"
You know, I broke down.
♪ The Gadsden flag, for us, it was this symbol moving out into enemy- occupied territory.
"Don't tread on me."
But during that tour, you know, it really took on a different meaning.
Walley: Take the fight to the enemy.
They're really good at, you know, saying patriotic stuff like that.
Yeah, go bring the fight to the enemy.
But it didn't really-- didn't feel as heroic as, you know, the stories would be told.
Newscaster: The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased dramatically in the first half of 2013.
McGuinness: They fed us into the meat grinder.
And that's how I felt by the end of that deployment.
It was just I don't care about this war anymore.
It's wrong, it's unjust.
And then our first platoon leader, 1st Lieutenant Dominic Latino, he was wounded by an IED.
Everything changed after that.
Hannity: Former Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance is now in jail, convicted of murder.
McGuinness: Clint Lorance was a lieutenant that was forced on my company commander.
The second day we knew something wasn't right.
And then day 3 is when I guess the-- you know, "the incident," as it's referred to quite a bit, occurred.
Two of the men were killed, the third ran away.
Military prosecutors, they said Lorance violated rules of engagement.
Newscaster: He ordered his platoon to fire at 3 Afghan men who were approaching on a motorcycle... McGuiness: He was there a total of 3 days, and, you know, committed a crime on every day but the first.
After the incident with Lorance, they split the platoon apart, and it just kind of followed us around for a while.
Man: The Clint Lorance affair was really, really messy.
It's been messy since the day Lorance came into it.
And my son James had to testify, so, it affected him a lot.
Morrissey: For James, it was especially hard.
James felt a lot of things, you know, and it hurt him.
McGuiness: War... war sucks, man.
Everybody's read, like, the poem or the story that war brings out the best in people.
It allows people to do these heroic acts.
War is ########.
And when you send people to war and ask them to actively kill another person, don't be surprised when they come back, one, with a lot of questions, and two, with a lot of trauma.
♪ Morrissey: After that, the flag "Don't tread on me" statement is not against, you know, the enemy.
Now we are fighting the emotional toll that it has taken on us.
I'm not gonna let this be the end of me.
♪ [Crowd chanting "Stop the steal"] Fox News Decision Desk can now project that former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th President.
Newscaster: He is president-elect Joseph Robinette Biden.
Newscaster 2: Donald Trump has vowed not to concede.
The President is resisting the results of the election.
[Crowd chanting "Stop the steal"] He is insisting that he's not gonna rest until the American people have what he describes as an honest vote count.
[Crowd chanting "Fight for Trump"] Newscaster: Businesses are boarded up.
Streets are blocked off.
But pro-Trump demonstrators are undeterred, descending on the nation's capital with defiance.
[Crowd chanting "USA"] So, you come into your office and you lock the door.
So, if you notice, it was like no matter where I am, there's two pretty solid doors that you have to get through.
Rubenstein: After the election in 2020, were you surprised that the election was contested?
I wish I could say I was surprised.
When the former president started preempting election day with saying, "The only way I'm gonna lose is if it's stolen," I had this concern that we would get in a bad place.
[Crowd chanting "Fight for Trump"] All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by an emboldened radical left Democrat, which is what they're doing.
We will never give up.
We will never concede.
[Crowd chanting "Fight for Trump"] Kinzinger: If you convince people that the election is stolen, you can expect violence, because frankly, it's in our DNA.
Are you surprised that the protestors used the Gadsden flag as one of their symbols?
I am and I'm not.
You know, I think if we look back at the start of, for instance, the Tea Party Movement, which I would argue the Tea Party in 2010 was very different than what the Tea Party became in 2012 and on, it was always that flag, the "Don't tread on me."
And now, I mean, it's crazy if I drive somewhere or I see that flag somewhere, I think of that as a far-right flag.
You can't see exactly the Mall, but you can see parts of where people would be walking with their signs and stuff.
You don't see the bulk of it yet, but I opened that up, and I hear what sounds like a war.
Just like booms and pops and yelling.
[Crowd shouting indistinctly] Rubenstein, voice-over: We know the rest of the story.
[Crowd shouting indistinctly] The rioters were eventually cleared from the Capitol.
But what was even more disturbing was what happened afterwards.
Giuliani: I saw the beginning of the march, and it seemed, you know, pretty non-conspicuous.
I very honestly said, "I didn't feel threatened on January the 6th."
You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.
Pelosi: Without objection, the gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Madame Speaker, as a student of foreign policy, if somebody described to me the actions that we saw, I would have assumed we were in a failed nation or a banana republic.
I went down to the floor, and I was angry, I was really angry.
For some out there, this isn't about making a statement for the betterment of our country, it's about avoiding the pain of leveling with the people and telling them the truth.
I concluded it by saying, "The emperor has no clothes."
The emperor has no clothes.
And the thing that sticks out to me the most was the dead silence after I spoke because I think they knew I was right.
They were embarrassed.
That was a shameful moment in American democracy.
The Republican National Committee voted to formally censure Representative Adam Kinzinger for being a part of the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol and the events of January 6th.
You know, we're in a battle for the soul of our republic.
And right now, fear and lies and distrust is more effective at gaining power than truth.
There's gonna be a point at which this country realizes lies and distrust will destroy us.
I don't know the broad answer to how to fix it.
I'd be implementing it if I did.
I know that I'm responsible to tell truth.
That's the only thing I'm called to do in this job is to tell people truth.
And that's gonna be a battle.
Kinzinger: You know, you talk about the impact of that day, but you guys won.
You guys held.
You know, democracies are not defined by our bad days.
We're defined by how we come back from bad days.
How we take accountability for that.
I think the word "patriot" has been so perverted.
Particularly since January 6th, a patriot is somebody that's tearing up the Capitol.
For me, patriotism is somebody that believes in the fundamental basics of democracy and the republic and will defend it and defend the rights of people they disagree with.
And I still think of the patriotic side of "Don't tread on me" as Americans standing up against, you know, tyranny, real tyranny.
♪ Morrissey: Unfortunately, you know, since 2012, we've lost a number of people.
And each one of those losses has its own significant impact on each of us.
For me, the closest bond I had with anybody throughout my entire military career was James Twist.
I knew that he was dealing with a lot of things.
I know that he dealt with survivor's guilt the same way that I did.
But you know, for James, it was especially hard.
James felt responsible, and it hurt him.
James took his own life.
Morrissey: After the memorial, I was talking to the other guys and saying, you know, "Hey, you know, this flag.
Look at all the pictures of us."
Because that was us.
That was, you know, that was our flag.
And I said, "You know, I think we should present one of these to James's dad."
♪ Twist: This, of course, is a symbol of their service.
This is the flag that my son's platoon members signed at his burial.
Don't Tread on Me.
McGuinness: We wanted to do something for his dad.
We had to.
Because that was Twist's thing, right?
Him and Joe come up with a harebrained idea to lug a #### flag around everywhere in Afghanistan.
Because even at this point, you know, this is two years ago, I think the flag's #### gross now.
But for that one, that wasn't a political statement.
That was trying to help a buddy's dad, you know, feel like he's not out here by himself.
Twist: They're so kind to have given me this flag, and I pull it out on special occasions.
It's meaningful to me.
You know, it's a memory of my son.
It's a symbol.
You know, what do you have left after someone dies, but just symbols, things to help you remember?
McGuinness: Twist's dad is not flying that flag out of any political statement.
He's flying that flag because he knows that every one of those dudes who signed that wanted to be there for my son, and that's what counts, you know.
And I think that's important.
Walley: James Twist really loved the Army.
He really loved being a part of 1st Platoon.
So, something like the Gadsden flag was even more, you know, something he could feel like he was a part of.
And the Gadsden flag to this day still has that form of unity with the platoon.
Everybody's gonna view the flag different, especially with what's going on now with the flag, but it holds, you know, more of that original face value with the 1st Platoon.
And nobody could ever tarnish that.
Twist: The Gadsden flag's taken on a very different meaning for me.
It meant a great deal to James.
So, now I fly it from my house, along with the American flag, and I got a shoulder tattoo that matched his.
I see it every time I look in the mirror and am reminded of my son.
♪ Jeffries: The story of America in a nutshell is a story of possibility.
It's a story of opportunities and opportunities lost.
It is a story of struggle.
It is a violent story.
It is a harrowing story.
Ansoff: The Gadsden flag, you have to understand where it came from, what it means historically.
And you have to understand that flags mean different things to different people.
Isaacson: We've become very polarized these days.
I think we have to realize that America is a beautiful fabric and these are all the warp and woof of the fabric.
Scofield: The Gadsden flag starts back with Benjamin Franklin, and the first time that we saw this illustration, it was about uniting the States, uniting people to fight against an oppressor.
What I think changed now is that we've been seeing that it's a warning against any principles that they don't want to follow.
[Speaking foreign language] Scofield: Everyone can get the Gadsden flag and claim whatever meaning they want to claim with it.
Kibbe: There was a version of the Gadsden flag that the students in Hong Kong used against the Chinese authoritarians, and there's a gay pride version of the Gadsden flag.
Walley: I believe this flag could be used across the entire world.
Whatever group of people may feel oppressed, take that flag and use it, because, you know, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if it was, you know, made in the--made in the USA.
McGuinness: The Gadsden flag is predominantly flown by, like, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, these far-right ####.
They're not to be spoken to, they're not to be debated.
They're just to be punched in the face.
Kibbe: I do see the Gadsden flag being abused by what I would call Nationalists that don't at all represent the original ethos.
That vision that we can be in charge of our own lives is the fundamentally American thing that we shouldn't give up.
Isaacson: I think it's important to keep that "don't tread on me" mentality.
On the other hand, we have to understand that the good we can do together, the good we can do as a community is what makes all of us stronger.
♪ Rubenstein, voice-over: In the aftermath of the violent events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Senator Amy Klobuchar and other federal legislators reminded us, as the Constitutional Convention ended, a woman approached Dr. Benjamin Franklin and said, "Doctor, what have you given us, a monarchy or a republic?"
And Dr. Franklin replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."
At the heart of our nation's story is a promise.
But it's been a struggle to realize that promise.
The Gadsden flag symbolizes that.
It's an icon that has unified us and an emblem of our divisions.
But like America, the story of the Gadsden flag is a story America is still writing.
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