Wednesday, 25 February 2015

National pride


One of the things that struck me when I visited the USA a couple of years ago was how many national flags one sees.  As well as those flying on public buildings, many private houses, at least in New England where I was, had the Stars and Stripes prominently and proudly displayed. It's a much rarer occurrence here in Britain. You will see public buildings flying the Union Flag on certain memorial days, including the birthdays of members of the Royal family. You see red, white and blue bunting here sometimes but it is unusual to see a private house with a proper flag outside. This one is an exception and, from the frayed edge, the flag appears to have been here a while.

I was interested to read that there is a 'Flag code' in the US, covering how and when the American flag can be used. It is, apparently, prohibited to use it in fashion items: 'The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery.' (I'm not sure anyone takes any notice.) The Union Jack, on the other hand, has no such restrictions and has been a prominent symbol on clothing and household items since the 1960s and - as any visitor to London will testify - it is hard to see past it on all sorts of souvenirs and memorabilia. A flag outside a house, however, tends to provoke slight unease and suspicions about far-right politics, quite probably without any justification.


7 comments:

  1. I noticed the same when I was in the States ! Had never seen so many flags hanging at houses or out of the windows. In Belgium we use the flag as your country does, and there is no restriction for wearing it as a cloth ! Where is the so praised freedom ?

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  2. When I was a kid the Union Jack was the flag of Canada until we developed our own flag in the 1960's. I also notice the large number of flags in the USA. They are a very patriotic people.

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  3. I think everyone should (hopefully) be proud of their country, but patriotism doesn't have to shout. I made the mistake of mischievously asking an American friend when we were over there if they were celebrating anything in particular and got quite a humourless response! I agree that flying the Union Flag from a private house in Britain can seem a little odd - unreasonably so, I think. Venture north of the border and you'll see the saltire everywhere; it's even on produce, just in case anyone forgets where they are...

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  4. It seems anyone going to the States is struck by the sight of their flag flying everywhere.

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  5. Yes, flags are ubiquitous over here. They have always been common in some places, but after September 11 we went on a flag frenzy that has barely abated. In the 1960s, the radical Abbie Hoffman was put on trial for wearing a flag on his clothes, but these days it is not unusual for clothing to have flag designs and no one is offended. In fact, on the Fourth of July, many people pull out their flag clothing especially to celebrate Independence Day. BUT, we do have a flag code, and a frayed flag like the one you show would be considered disrespectful and it should be destroyed. (Odd customs, eh?)

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  6. That is the same here, in Australia.

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  7. Speaking as a USA citizen, I am put off by the seeming compulsion to flaunt national pride in this manner, Heaven help the politician who appears without a flag pin in his/her lapel. Every burger franchise flies the flag -- not sure what this means. A lot of flag waving started back during the Vietnam Was --Reader's Digest sent out flag decals to put on cars and the conservative element cheered. (There's a great protest song from that era "Your flag decal won't get you into Heaven anymore./It's already overcrowded from your dirty little war . . ." And the destruction of 9/11 brought out even more flags. I suspect that the biggest flag wavers are those on the Right.

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