Our Flag’s In Trouble

I was talking to a fellow veteran the other day and asked him what he thought of the way some demonstrators in the freedom convoy in Ottawa were abusing the Canadian flag, including carrying it upside down. His answer jarred me. “Makes me wonder if the flag is becoming an endangered species,” he quipped.

Like so many Canadians, I’ve always taken our Maple Leaf flag as a regular part of our lives. We see it every day in so many different venues. Sometimes it hangs quietly and other times it’s waving beautifully in the wind. But as we go about our daily routines, it is always there and always our symbol of freedom. Except now, 57 years after its introduction, it has come to be recognized around the world as a welcome sign of democracy.

But because I’ve taken my flag for granted, it comes as something of jolt, on the eve of February 15th, this year’s Flag Day, to realize that things have changed . . . and we are now faced with some Canadians who don’t want to treat the flag with courtesy or respect.

The tough realization, it seems, is that the free ride of national acceptance is over or, if that’s too dramatic, it has certainly entered a new phase.

And while veterans always identify with service to country and its flag, they can’t be the only people needing to care for and nurture the country’s symbol.

Looking around, there are an endless number of community organizations that have a natural connection to our national symbol.

Let’s start with teachers educating their classes, from kindergarten and upwards, on the words and meaning of O Canada, sung every morning to start the day.

One of my older friends is a former teacher and supervisor who was dismayed to discover that too many classrooms had no flag to which the students would direct their gaze, as they sang our national anthem. When he investigated, it turned out that the local school board felt the $29 for a decent-sized flag was excessive and they rejected the expense. That decision left teachers high and dry to make do with whatever flag material was suitable for their classroom, if any at all.

The results, of course, saw flags of every material and size imaginable, as the instructor’s initiative and imagination were fully tested.

The next challenge our flag faces is whose responsibility is it to care for and maintain it? If we accept that the flag belongs to all Canadians, then we have the answer: WE ALL ARE!

So all of a sudden, there’s a new dimension to what response is best in coping with the growing abuse and disrespect for the Maple Leaf flag.

Of course, not everyone has a flag in their life except on national occasions such as Canada Day and Remembrance Day.

And while not every residence or business is interested in flying our flag, perfectly understandable, at the same time, there are a number of institutions who are automatically associated with honouring and respecting our national symbol. Whenever we see a colour party of the Royal Canadian Legion or the Regular and Reserve Forces units on parade, and all their civilian counterparts during a civilian celebration, we know our flag is being well and duly respected.

And as Flag Day comes and goes in 2022, Canadians now are able to understand and appreciate that, in the face of any abuse and disrespect shown for the flag, there is a large, powerful force ready, willing and able to protect and maintain the dignity our flag – each and every one of us!

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