Flags interest me. They are symbols, they are decorative, and they can be celebratory. As I walk about I see national flags, sports team flags, pride flags, association flags, and commercial advertising flags.
Sometimes, I notice flags that look a little sorry for themselves. They have been abandoned or neglected, and some have just become faded and frayed. When they are new and brightly coloured, we imbue them with a lot of national or personal pride, and we all know we should respect the flag. Some older flags, however, have clearly lost that respect.
American politicians wear flag pins on their lapels and they may be criticized if they fail to do so. Canadian politicians don’t usually wear flag pins, but they could if they wanted to, so long as it isn’t considered a prop.
There are some rules about flags not touching the ground, and flags being flown at half-mast when there has been a death. There is also a universal understanding that the national flag should not be trodden on or burned. Those actions are so symbolically dreadful that demonstrators may make a deliberate display of defacing an enemy’s flag.
Since our flags do so much of the heavy lifting when it comes to our national pride, you would think we would do more to ensure they were always in tip-top shape. When we want to, we can really do right by our flags. We wave them at parades, hang them from poles outside our houses and businesses, and we even paint them on our faces.
I just wish there was a way to make sure that, if we are going to put up a flag, we keep it new and bright.