July 09, 2024

The DAGR Hat: Backstory

The DAGR Hat: Backstory

With hattips to Tomi Ungerer’s “The Hat”’ 1970, Parents' Magazine Press, and Pete Seeger’s version of “This Land”

By Karen Lee, DAGR Communications chair

By now, I hope you’ve seen the video of DAGR Athens 4th of July celebration, “We Want Our Hat Back!”  It came together almost by accident. Judy Blish and I both felt the distance out to Marathon was more than we were up for, given the rain predictions and more. But we were in touch with Vice Chair Sarajane Leone all day as the last-minute details shook out. Sarajane decided to drag her laptop along to the event, just in case. We tuned in on Zoom, and the rest is as in the video: initial interest – Chair Brady dubbed us The Fates, elders overlooking the crowd. It shortly faded into ‘let me check my email,’ or in Judy’s case, her ancient cat.

The sub-theme, the Hat, is another matter. Sarajane’s been supplying DAGR Fourth Of July (aka FOJ) with piñatas since 2016. She keeps them under wraps, surprising everyone with a clever theme and delighting the younger attendees. She’s produced The Fat Cat (2016), The Wall (2017), and the Coffin of Rights (2018). You may notice the homogeneity. We bash the piñata, not democracy’s positive aspects.

Treated to the ubiquitous red tractor hat with MAGA slogan, Sarajane just thought its time had come. And so, it had, empty, devoid of candy like the MAGA ‘platform’ is devoid of rational ideas.

But there’s more to the backstory. DAGR’s red baseball cap first appeared in 2009. Charity Moschopoulos headed up the ‘hospitality’ committee for the Obama Inaugural event at American Community Schools (ACS). It was the largest committee, nearly 20 people, armed with site maps and other info to help the 800-some guests find their way around the sprawling ACS campus. It was our first year remotely connecting via cell phone. And Charity, drawing on her Girl Scout experience, wore the red hat so her team could spot her in the crowd.

By summer 2015, Charity, now DAGR Secretary, was also amusing herself with swag. She sewed up some BBQ aprons, and we had them stamped with our DAGR then-logo, the DA shooting star climbing beside the Acropolis. When she found a source of baseball caps, we had them printed, too, red, white, and blue. All the volunteers had white caps and aprons. But the one red hat, Charity presented to me, as Chair, so they could find me in the crowd.

The Red Hat went to major DAGR events that year and again to FOJ 2016. We were still very up about it, even though Trump had already started usurping the hat for his MAGA crowd. We were also up about the widely held notion that he couldn’t possibly win against Hillary Clinton. So, even as the media gave him free advertising and driveled on about Hillary’s emails and the polls began to show it was going to be tight … we held onto the Red Hat.

We wore it for the Election Watch party at the Caravel. Stubbornly.

I don’t remember exactly when I took the Red Hat off, possibly around 4 a.m. But from that moment on, there’s been a scavenger hunt or lotto that keeps beckoning, a recurring dream: Find the Red Hat! Take Back the Red Hat!

Seriously? A hat is just a symbol. Like a flag. Back at the dawn of the 21st century, the Bush Republicans claimed Old Glory. They flew it everywhere, like they alone owned it. Some Dems were hesitant to fly it. Empty symbols and patriotic rhetoric in the face of a war founded on lies were just unseemly. So, a ragtag bunch of us here in Greece, the HELADA group of Americans and friends, had a TakeBackTheFlag party. We recorded the effort on our website. It’s gone now, the Americans in HELADA having mainly been re-activated in Dems Abroad since 2008 or so.

Now, almost 20 years later, we have a buffoon hugging and smooching the flag like it was one of the women he bragged about grabbing. He’s claimed the Red Hat, too. Behind that symbolism, lurks a most un-American “Project 2025” plan to claim our whole country and turn it into an autocracy. An oligarchy. A land of the rich and selfish … “Give us your tired, your poor, and we’ll get them working for a crust and being glad to have that.” The originalism they claim is revealed as nostalgia for 19th-century sweatshops.

Well, they’ve gone too far this time. We took back the flag. Now we’re taking back the Red Hat. And this November, we’re taking back our share of the country. 52%.

And if we have a little fun in the process, more’s the better!

Everybody, sing along now: “This Hat is your hat, this Hat is my hat, from informed voter, to absentee ballot! This Hat was made for you and me!”