maple leaf in the air

23/12/2018 Posted by admin

 Hold onto your hat, or your heart, this is a shocker. Americans are looking up to Canadians for their patriotism. 

   And not just love of country, but outward display of it. 

  No way. Impossible. Can’t be. When I moved to Canada it was Americans who covered the sky with their flags. They were at rock concerts. They were at swap meets. They were on shoulder patches. Basically every police department in the country had a flag sewn on their uniform. 

  Yesterday, May 21, 2011, I was at something in Seattle called Street Fair. It is 10 blocks of arts and crafts and food and music and jugglers in the university district and has been going on for 45 years. I hardly noticed at first, but there was not one American flag. 

  It used to be a Canadianism to say, “We are not like Americans. We don’t show our patriotism outwardly. We carry it inside.”  

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  That is very nice to hear. But I look out the window were I am sitting now in my home and there is a Canadian flag flying on a pole in front of the house across the street. That is very nice to see. 

  And when I drive around the city I see the Maple Leaf flying basically everywhere. When I travel it is sewn onto nearly never pack sack and stickered on countless suitcases.  

  Some say it is so those carrying it don’t get mistaken for Americans. Some Americans have said the same thing when they put the Maple Leaf on their American Tourister Luggage.  

  Then in Seattle I read a story in an arts and entertainment newspaper headlined, “Fear of the Flag.” It is in rock and roll and arts papers that you get a feeling of what the mood is in a city.  Feelings inside tell you what is behind the facts that are outside and more importantly, they tell predict what the future facts will be. 

   Chris Kornelis,  a music critic who I don’t know and never met, said he had a good feeling when  he was at a rock show in Pemberton three years ago. After the warm up bands played he wrote, “the crush of young, almost entirely Canadian fans in front of the stage burst into an impromptu a cappella rendition of their national anthem, ‘O Canada.’” 

  At an outdoor rock concert in Washington, Kornelis wrote, Canadian fans flew Canadian flags. One young American women who lives in Canada wrapped herself in the red and white flag. He talked to her. 

  “I love America,” she said. “My mom’s American. But Americans don’t share the same enthusiasm about patriotism as Canadians.” 

   My eyes bulged. I thought it was the other way around. But no, right there in black and white and read all over the newspaper fellow was saying, “It’s commonplace to see Canadians make their national pride known at summer festivals…..Such outward expression of national pride is unheard of among their stateside peers.” 

   He said it is “embarrassing” for a young music fan in America to hold up the flag. The connotation that it “represents hicks, rednecks, the NASCAR community, and the far right is so prevalent that it almost doesn’t make sense for a liberal to wave the flag anymore.” That is the feeling in a newspaper, the Seattle Weekly, that has stories on music and the arts and feelings and trends. 

  In Canada he talked to someone who said the flag flies with the rock music because, “Every time we’re having fun, we’re patriotic.” 

  As I said, the world has turned upside down. Or maybe it is right side up.   

 I think the Stars and Stripes represents a long list of good things. But I’m glad to look out my window and see the Maple Leaf.  



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