Flags, Torches and Patriotism

Today is Independence Day in the US, and so there has been a special ICAD challenge prompt for today: “share an index card of the US flag (or your own country’s flag!), a card inspired by freedom, independence, fireworks, something related to the holiday.”

I have gone with the Union Flag (although purists may note that this is not, perhaps, terribly accurately drawn!)

icad #34 v

Gman went with the easier-to-draw St George’s Cross:

icad #34 g

And Waif was very inclusive with his flag-waving celebrations:

icad #34 r

Friends and regular readers will not be terribly surprised to learn that I am not much of a patriot – I’m with Voltaire in this belief:

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.

The trouble with patriotism, for me, is that to glory in an Us, there has to be a Them. There is danger inherent in such dualism I think. This is the first time I have ever tried to draw a Union Flag and will quite likely be the last ;-).

It has been something of a year for flag-waving here in the UK – first the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (I invite you to read Ben Naga’s excellent poetic commentary), now the Olympics. And today, as it happens, the Olympic Torch has been carried through our town. Passing just 5 minutes’ walk from our door, it would have been rude not to go and see. Here’s the boys, dressed for the British summer weather:


On arrival at the scene, the boys were handed plastic flags, which they dutifully waved a bit, in a slightly unimpressed fashion:


Amidst the noise and hullabaloo of all the corporate sponsored buses, we nearly missed the torch itself:


The handover took place just yards from where we stood, but unfortunately our view was obscured by a stationary vehicle, though I did manage to get this pic by holding the camera above my head:


Flag-waving duties over for now.

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19 thoughts on “Flags, Torches and Patriotism

  1. auntie princess 'efa says:

    I shall have one child in a t-shirt bearing a union and the other in stars and stripes. We support both teams around here! But really I think that all the kids care about are the fireworks and that they get to do snappers and sparklers 🙂

    • vivjm says:

      I think you could be right. Maybe you could design some sort of stars n stripes union jack combo t-shirt for them to wear 😉

  2. Motherfunker says:

    I keep meaning to read Billy Braggs “A progressive Patriot” which has been sat on our bookshelves for about 5 years I think! I don’t like people using the flag to justify being bullies to ‘foreigners’ since we were an immigrant mish-mash nation made up of Saxons, Celts, Angles, Vikings, Romans, and so on, even before the England that idiot small minded “nationalists’ hark back to….. and I agree, we are only called Great Britain because we were a bunch of arses. Who even knows what this island would be had it not been for all the raiding, pillaging, and pirating we did for centuries. Yet here we are…. It would be great to celebrate genuine change, but it will be hard for an entire country to do…. We seem to be better at uniting for war than uniting for peace…. At least sport is relatively peaceful……

  3. Andria says:

    I enjoyed your post, Viv. I have fun getting my girls in on all of the July 4th festivities…flag-waving and all. Any excuse for a celebration, I guess. We even “marched” in our community’s parade this morning. I feel like we CAN celebrate and appreciate our country without excluding or insulting other countries, though unfortunately there are plenty of people who exemplify the “ugly side of patriotism.” That’s an awesome close-up of the torch-passing.

    • vivjm says:

      I can relate to the “any excuse for a celebration”!!
      I was pretty pleased with the torch passing photo too, especially as I had the camera in the air and couldn’t see what I was photographing!

  4. Great post, and great comments here too. Your post made me laugh out loud at your two lads, which reminded me of my two when they were young. I agree that we mustn’t mistake patriotic flag-waving with the horrors of bullying, saying others are less than, or “Them”. I like saluting patriotism when it salutes such a melting-pot of cultures and nationalities as in your country, the US, and my own Canada,for example. I point out to anyone who dares comment within earshot of me of anyone being a foreigner to this continent, that we ALL are. We are not native to this land, and are ALL immigrants. Funny how after a couple or few generations people forget this. Oops – long comment. Thanks for a great post!

    • vivjm says:

      Oh yes, I agree with saltuing the melting pot of cultures, for sure. We are all immigrants, just a matter of how far back you go I guess. Thanks for your long comment 🙂

  5. 🙂 How exciting having the olympic torch so close, if not actually seeing it. This is a great post, I loved seeing all your interpretations on the flag. My two are working on their creations on an index card currently, I have been surprised at how they have both interpreted the prompt. I needed to go double check on the union jack part of our flag, and then I stuffed it up completely and had to redo it…I won’t be rushing to do another flag either.

    • vivjm says:

      Haha, drawing the Union flag is much harder than it looks! Just popped over to your blog and you did an ace job on the flag. Look forward to seeing your kids versions too!

  6. Liz says:

    I love the Union Jack! It was actually the flag of Newfoundland until we came up with our own back in the 80’s. It is still flown here prominently beside the Maple Leaf! It must be getting very exciting there now in anticipation of the Olympics! I was in London in May and the countdown was on then and the city looked lovely!

  7. Sara says:

    Love your Union Jack! As Liz before me said, it’s still flown a lot here in NL! About your thoughts on patriotism, I agree with point you make – I don’t like the us and them mentality either. Our world would be heaps better without that thought! So I choose to look at my flag as celebrating the unique culture and society in which I live while still appreciating and embracing the other unique cultures in the world!

  8. Dianne says:

    wonderful post…and thought provoking. your flags are well done. indeed, things which look simple often aren’t! enjoy the festivities!

  9. Awareness says:

    Great Voltaire quote. The 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver were enjoyed by visitors from many different countries in a wonderful festive atmosphere.

  10. Love the Voltaire quote. I wish there were a much larger proportions of Americans who had the same sentiment. So much xenophobia these days. As an American, I also love reading your blog while hearing a British accent in my head. 🙂

    • vivjm says:

      Lol at the British accent ;-). Glad you like the Voltaire quote too. It seems to me that being seen as “unpatriotic” in America is more frowned upon than it is over here?

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