According to an early entry in my baby book under "favorite amusements," this entry appears in my mother's distinctive angular penmanship: "Can spot a flag where ordinarily people would miss it."
Nothing changed over time. While my friends were collecting baseball cards in grade school, I was collecting flag cards. My friends might know Ted Williams's statistics, but I knew the design of the Cambodian flag.
To this day, I love flags; I even have a small collection. I often choose a flag at random to display. Wednesday? How about Trinidad and Tobago? Arbor Day? How about Liechtenstein? Independence Day? That Union Jack might create a bit of chat.
Even though a Baby Boomer, I am more of a Traditionalist when it comes to flags. They are not merely designs: they are the symbols of the best of every nation.
A Spanish newspaper, 20 Minutos recently challenged the world (or a portion of it) with the question: "What is the most beautiful flag in the world?" While the contest was underway, one of Peter Rice's students started canvassing reader's of Peter's blog to vote for the Mexican flag.
Jennifer Rose now reports the results are in, and the winner is: the flag of Mexico -- with Peru and Guatemala as the runners up.
All three flags have a common general design, but each carries its own national pride. The design is simple and easily recognizable. No one ever said of the Mexican flag: Is that an Indonesian flag or a Polish flag signalling distress or is it Monaco?
The flag has three vertical stripes of green, white, and red. But what makes it truly Mexican is that engaging Aztec omen: the eagle on a cactus eating a snake. The colors were inspired by the French tricolor -- and all that it stood for. (A bit ironic when you consider what the French did to Mexico a mere forty years later.)
I find it odd and heart-warming, in this post-modern world, that anyone has taken the time to do something so old-fashioned as to honor national pride. To the post-modernist, symbols are symbols; they are not real. Therefore, they have no place of honor in society.
Over the years (and this year, in fact), politicians have ignored symbols to their cost. Pretending that people do not honor the things for which symbols stand is to ignore human nature. You may as well make fun of their religion.
That attitude was best demonstrated by one of my left-wing friends (a person who would never vote for Democrats because they are all too conservative for his taste), who expressed his disdain for the Canadian flag in the presence of two Canadians. "Looks like the label off of a syrup can," he quipped, and was then offended that all three of us were offended. "It's just a piece of cloth" was his best defense.
He was wrong. Flags are not just pieces of cloth. They represent the best in who we and our neighbors are.
I say congratulations to Mexico. Job well done. May all of the dreams that the flag stands for come true for all of her people.