Who will stop the bleeding?

We commend the efforts of a Parksville businessman to encourage a bit of healthy patriotism and national pride in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

A “flag challenge” issued by Dr. Andy Biro can be a fun way to spark interest and even decorate our communities.

But beware the example you choose to emulate in promoting the symbols that represent your cultural identity.

Dr. Biro lamented the relative lack of maple leaf banners waving in the mid-Island breeze, and compared it to the proliferation of stars and stripes found in communities of all sizes in our neighbour to the south.

Yes, the United States is big on the flag-waving. The NEWS staff includes a couple of U.S. expatriates who can readily vouch for that.

The notion that every U.S. flag-waver also bears a firearm with which to protect it is, of course, a scurrilous slander.

We think?

In any case, flags as national symbols emerged on a large scale only in the past 200 years or so.

Before that, they were employed — going back as far as the Roman legions and beyond — as guidons or pennants to designate military units in battle. During the Middle Ages, they were seen as an easier way to identify a friendly knight than the heraldic crest he already wore.

Of course, an easy way to identify yourself to a friend on the battlefield worked just as well for the other guy. During the U.S. Civil War, one of the highest honours for a soldier was being chosen as his unit’s flag-bearer. The other high honour was knocking the opponent out from under his own flag.

We’re not saying raising the red and white maple leaf over Parksville Qualicum Beach will make us targets. But it is understandable a nation known more for its peacekeepers than for its war-making would be a bit reticent about exhibiting the occasionally more belligerent behaviour of others.

Besides, it’s not as if Canadians are unwilling to fly the flag while expressing their country’s superiority to others. We do it every four years during the Winter Olympic hockey finals.

Maybe it is time to try it in the summer. You only turn 150 years old once, after all.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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