The Flag

People are saying that putting a Ukrainian flag in your social media avatar is an empty virtue signal that doesn’t help.

But that’s not true. It really helps. I’m not saying it helps everybody but it helps me. Other people I talked to say the same. I don’t care if people put it up unthinkingly or what their motives are. I’m not their psychoanalyst. What do I care about motives?

The thing is, we are attached to this flag like many people aren’t to theirs. Those of us who were born before 1991 didn’t grow up with it. I will forever remember the first time I saw it, and I was maybe 12 or 13. I’ve been attached to it deeply since then. My American kid knew the colors of the Ukrainian flag since the moment she learned to tell colors because I have it everywhere around the house, on two places on my car, in my office, my clothes, jewelry, my two medals. This isn’t connected to the war. I was always into it. Seeing it is a big pick-me-up at any time, and during a war, much more so.

I never even felt at home in America until I came to the Midwest and saw the familiar landscape of a corn field under a blue sky, which is what the flag symbolizes.

I’m not encouraging anybody to wrap themselves in Ukrainian flags to make me feel better but I do feel better when I see it. This flag was very hard-won. Today, people are dying for it. And it does feel comforting to see that others still hold it up even when our soldiers fall to the ground.

12 thoughts on “The Flag

  1. Here’s a poem for flag lovers (and I share its sentiments):

    The Flag Goes By – Poem by Henry Holcomb Bennett

    Hats off!
    Along the street there comes
    A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
    A dash of color beneath the sky:
    Hats off!
    The flag is passing by!

    Blue and crimson and white it shines,
    Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
    Hats off!
    The colors before us fly;
    But more than the flag is passing by.

    Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
    Fought to make and to save the State:
    Weary marches and sinking ships;
    Cheers of victory on dying lips;

    Days of plenty and years of peace;
    March of a strong land’s swift increase;
    Equal justice, right and law,
    Stately honor and reverend awe;

    Sign of a nation, great and strong
    To ward her people from foreign wrong:
    Pride and glory and honor,–all
    Live in the colors to stand or fall.

    Hats off!
    Along the street there comes
    A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
    And loyal hearts are beating high:
    Hats off!
    The flag is passing by!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly.

      Also, I keep hearing that this is “just symbolic.” Since when does the symbolic lack importance? When people in Italy burned their vaccine passports out of solidarity with the unvaccinated, it was symbolic. It did nothing to help me get back to Canada but it felt good to watch the videos. When people around the world honked in support of Canadian truckers and wore T-shirts to show solidarity, that was symbolic. But it wasn’t useless. As a citizen of Canada, I’m deeply grateful to everybody who honked, re-posted, spoke up, and showed support.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing is, look, the matter of what is deeply meaningful and helpful for people and what is meaningless virtue signaling is subjective and in the eye of the beholder.

        I’m generalizing here very much (“Not all Clarissa’s posts”), but you have been treating it as objective quite often on this blog.

        I’ve logged into Facebook and commented on people’s posts for the first time in 8 years. The frames with the Ukrainian flag on people’s profiles were nice, but I had to work very hard to stop myself from posting that your Facebook frame or post about prayers for Ukraine is meaningless unless it’s accompanied by a link to ways to donate to the Ukrainian Army and a note about how much you personally donated.

        There is one group of people for whom Ukrainian flag frames in Facebook profiles matter for me – Russian citizens. Otherwise, I have to assume they support this attack on the peaceful country of my birth.

        I read that the daughter of a high-ranking Kremlin official made a post against the war on her Instagram account. Russian oligarchs, their children, and children of Kremlin officials are the only people whose speech in support of Ukraine on social media could mean anything, and even then – not much.

        I’m very glad to see finally see meaningful action from other European countries. Unconditional support for refugees, sending weapons to Ukraine, etc. Meaningful sanctions on Russia. Cutting Russia off from international airspace. Putin did more to unite Europe and Ukraine internally than anyone else has managed to in recent decades.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Of course, as I said, it helps me to see the flags. Everybody is different. But since on this blog we are rallying around me (сегодня жалеем меня!), I needed to bring this up.

          Interestingly, seeing Russians put up Ukrainian flags gives me fits of rage. I need everybody’s support except for theirs. Every time I see it I rember this girl in my class at school who’d rat out her classmates and when they’d get punished, she’d weep loudly about how bad she feels for doing that to them. Everybody would start comforting her, completely forgetting about the people she got in trouble and who actually did suffer.

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    2. Oh yes, there’s a huge overlap. The world is not black and white and you’ll find people who agree with you on one important issue and completely disagree on another.

      I love the Ukrainian flag. It’s so simple yet powerful – a field of wheat under a blue sky is as peaceful as it gets.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely outside of anybody on this blog, in actual life, the response of the people I know has been, without exception, broken up amongst ideological lines. The more politically left a person, a fellow parishioner, a colleague, or a friend is, the more kind and supportive they have been to me personally. The more to the right people are, the more psychologically high-maintenance, tone-deaf and tiresome they have been. Again, this isn’t anybody on the blog. It’s what I see among people I know personally. Yesterday, at church the only people who came up to give me a hug and say they are there to help with Klara or cook or clean or anything I need were the folks who are very far to the left.

        The people who have ignored me completely are the moderate left. Those have been the most weird. A very close friend who’s moderate left has been pretending that I don’t exist. You could at least put a like on a FB comment. But no, it’s complete silence. I actually even prefer the right-wingers with their both-siderism to this complete blackout.

        It doesn’t particularly please me to observe any of this but I can’t pretend it isn’t there.

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        1. “The more to the right people are, the more psychologically high-maintenance, tone-deaf and tiresome they have been”

          I remember you once wrote that a significant amount of appeal that Putin has for Russian women is a fantasy about male competence (that they are generally starved for in real life).

          I think there’s a similar dynamic on the right… I’ve seen so many otherwise sane right-leaning people just go goo-goo gah-gah over him like he’s some great decisive leader in recent years… it’s like watching a studious high school girl falling in love with a petty criminal…..

          Liked by 1 person

          1. There’s also a lot of contrarianism at play. The right is countercultural, so if there’s a general consensus about something, we’ve got to question it. I get it but if Hillary Clinton says today is Monday, it isn’t necessary to suspect it’s actually Saturday.

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        2. “The people who have ignored me completely are the moderate left. Those have been the most weird. A very close friend who’s moderate left has been pretending that I don’t exist. ”

          I’ve observed that many people are just very uncomfortable with tragic events and will go completely silent. Some people also mistakenly think that discussing those events just makes it worse as it unnecessarily reminds you about them (as though you could be possibly keeping them off your mind). It goes with the PMC, which does tend to lean left.

          I can’t generalize much and don’t have many right-wing friends or acquaintances, but I have definitely experienced warm support from conservatives I know (not on this specific issue, but in general in my own life). Much of that from liberals as well, of course.

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