No, this is not an episode of "Fun With Flags" starring Dr, Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory". But we are going to have some fun with flags anyway. This edition of Fun With Flags is all about one flag, our flag - Canada's National Flag - the Red and White Maple Leaf. SATURDAY FEBRUARY 15th IS NATIONAL FLAG DAY. Canadians all over this country will be celebrating the 49th birthday of our flag. Yes, just one year to go before the Red Maple Leaf hits THE BIG 5-O!
A flag is a symbol of identity and unity, especially in a country like Canada. It represents the pride and hopes of a people who share the grandeur of our magnificent geography, our bountiful resources, as well as our rich racial, religious and cultural diversity through a common set of beliefs and values.
Over the past half century, we have come to really love our flag. It seems to be everywhere from public buildings, private homes, on our backpacks when travelling overseas, to lapel pins and shoulder patches on the uniforms of our military. Plus, right now, as it is every two years, Canada's flag is again among the most visible and popular at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Red and White Maple Leaf is truly ours. Like many ultimately good things in Canada it came to be as the result of political compromise. The final design by George F. G. Stanley, inspired by the flag of the Royal Military College, is an eleven-point maple leaf representing the ten provinces and territories on a field of white, with two red bars signifying a country which spans the continent 'from sea to sea'. In recognition of the traditional colours of both Britain and France , Red and White had been proclaimed the official colours of Canada by King George V in 1921. Many historians date the use of the maple leaf as the primary symbol of Canada back to around 1700. No surprise there. After all, our aboriginal peoples had discovered the great taste treats that come from maple sap thousands of years earlier. Alexander Muir composed the iconic song The Maple Leaf Forever for Canada's Confederation year. It became our national song for decades, and remains a favourite to this day. Finally in 1957 the colour of the maple leaf on the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada was changed to red on a white ground. The stage was now set.
After a protracted political battle in Parliament, at precisely 12:00 noon on February 15th 1965, a crowd of dignitaries and regular Canadians assembled on Parliament Hill. They gazed up at the flagpole atop the Peace Tower to bear witness to an historic moment as the old Canadian Red Ensign was lowered for the last time and the Red Maple Leaf was inaugurated as the official National Flag of Canada.
So this brings us to the central question of this article. What will you be doing to celebrate Flag Day? We at mycollingwood.ca have a suggestion. Since Flag Day falls on a Saturday this year, after you finish with your regular weekend errands, why not gather up your friends and family, especially the kids, and head on over to the main hall in your town or city. Just before 12:00 noon will be ideal. Be sure to bring along a printout of this article for every person in your group. If there doesn't seem to be any town or city official there, take the lead yourself as MC in a Flag Day ceremony. Now while it is not as famous, or claim to have the same import of the American Pledge of Allegiance to Old Glory, we invite your group to join in and recite the following: THE PLEDGE TO THE CANADIAN FLAG.
"TO MY FLAG, AND TO THE COUNTRY IT REPRESENTS, I PLEDGE RESPECT AND LOYALTY.
WAVE WITH PRIDE FROM SEA TO SEA AND WITHIN YOUR FOLDS, KEEP US EVER UNITED.
BE FOR ALL A SYMBOL OF LOVE, FREEDOM, AND JUSTICE.
GOD KEEP OUR FLAG, GOD PROTECT OUR CANADA."
Written by John Hanlon