Ellen Anderson wants the community to stand up for Canada. The Blue Mountains mayor is encouraging people throughout the Georgian Triangle to show their true Canadian colours and fly the Maple Leaf – and not just for the country’s 140th birthday this weekend.
“I’m working toward raising community awareness for the importance of Canada,” she said. “We should be showing or displaying more patriotism.”
It’s not just for our own benefit, but also to show our support for Canadian troops – not necessarily those presently in Afghanistan, but especially those who travel frequently through the region between the military bases at Borden and Meaford and live in the area.
“It’s to show our support for the men and women who serve, and also their families,” she said, adding her father and uncles also served in the armed services. Both of her parents were born in Canada, though she noted her ancestors were or English, Irish and Scottish origin. “I feel very strongly that we need to show support to the troops and their families. Anderson acknowledges that Canadians tend to be significantly more subdued about their patriotism, especially when compared to Canada’s neighbours to the south in the United States.
While only the occasional house may fly the Maple Leaf in Canada, an American flag tends to be a predominant symbol through many residential neighbourhoods – and in front of many businesses as well - especially in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The United States Congress has even gone as far as passing legislation protecting the flag from physical desecration, in response to a 1989 Supreme Court decision that determined the physical act of desecrating the flag constituted free speech. Co-sponsored by congressmen from both sides of the house, the legislation passed easily when voted on last summer.
"The passage of this legislation today is a victory for every American. Millions of American men and women have died in defense of this nation and the flag that represents the history of our nation," Republican congressmen Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham said at the time. "The American flag is a national treasure. It is the ultimate symbol of freedom, equal opportunity and religious tolerance. Amending our Constitution to protect the flag is a necessity. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up this amendment immediately."
Legislation was even passed two years ago in Congress to prevent homeowner associations – such as a condominium – from enforcing any policy that prevents a homeowner from flying his or her American flag. And the States even has a day honouring the American flag, appropriately called Flag Day (this year celebrated on June 14).
“It is a marked difference when you cross the border,” she said. “Canadians really need to show off.”
That’s not to say Canadians don’t also show a fervent love of the flag. Lest those of us who are hockey fans forget how at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, with a rumour the American women hockey team stomped on our flag in their dressing room, the Canadian women’s team went out and defeated the Americans for the gold medal. While the story proved to be false, it was still an important rallying cry for the team – and Canadians coast-to-coast.
It’s that level of patriotism that Anderson is hoping to tap into. “We need to show our children how important Canada is and that we appreciate our lifestyle… how precious (our country) is to all of us,” Anderson said. “It’s a wonderful thing to show some patriotism… there are a lot of reasons we are blessed to live here, and it’s a personal statement to our belief in our nation.”
Ian Adams for mycollingwood.ca