Tonight I watched The Great Canadian Flag Debate on TV. I remember the debate well – it engaged my family, the country and the national government for most of 1964-1965. (Interesting to note that our national medicare system was established in 1966 without much debate, at least that was memorable to me as a teenager. I can only conclude that everyone knew what the sensible thing was, and it was done!)
My grandmother lived with us. Being manic-depressive, she spent her manic days pounding on a manual typewriter in her room, sending letters to all and sundry. Newspapers, politicians, old acquaintances, and distant relatives were favoured recipients. The flag debate kept her quite busy as she submitted numerous designs with detailed explanations, to the federal committee responsible for coming up with a new Canadian flag.
The debate occupied the country – it was nasty and divisive at the time and demonstrated how hot-under-the-collar Canadians can really get. My father was an ardent Canadian nationalist and a fan of Lester Pearson so he favoured the design of 3 red maple leaves and blue bars on each side. I liked a single red leaf with blue bars down the sides.
Now, 50 years later, the flag is so well accepted as our national symbol that younger people assume it has been around forever. I am almost more proud of the debate and resolution than I am of the resultant flag!
I understand that New Zealand is currently going through a great flag debate of its own. One of the proposals also features a leaf – of the silver fern. What do you think of it? I kind of like it.
Good luck to all Kiwis – I hope your process is as successful as ours!