JFK Library Flag, Boston, 2010
Americans do flags really well.
As a rule, Australians don't.
I find it quite distubing seeing these yoofs at the cricket draping the Australian flag across their shouldres like a cape, wearing Australian flag tattoos on their cheekbones, or the new seemingly eponymous Southern Cross tattoo plastered about the place. See, what happens when move country, or get another passport? Then there are the people who fly the flag in their front yards - again, don't know if I agree with this - though it comes down to personal choice. Personally, I don't think the Australian flag is that inspiring - nor does the website "Bad Flags of the World" which give our flag a C -something about being colonial rubbish - worth a look the site - though I do think it strange that the nearly identical Australian and New Zealandish flags are rated very differently. (The website is really worth a look for a giggle - some people have too much time on their hands)
As a kid, nobody had the flag flying in their front yards - now, it's becoming more common. Then you have the Aboriginal Flag, the rather menacing Eureka Flag (you know when that's being flown men in the building trade are about) and the completely uninspiring state flags. Think about it - what is a flag other than a bit of material with a uniform pattern on it?
In the US, the flag is EVERYWHERE. You can't look right and not the see the good ole red, white and blue flying in your face. When you're not used to such rampant patriotism, it's all a bit confronting.
Regardless, I look at this photo and see a poignancy to the American flag that I don't reckon I've witnessed before.
This shot was taken in the atrium of the John F Kennedy Library in Boston.
It's a remarkable place for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's a bugger to get to if you don't have a car. You take the 'T' the Boston Metro out to what feels like Woop Woop, then you hop on a free bus which takes you the rest of the way. The building is stark, standing on a bit of land near the seafront of Columbia Bay. There is nothing else around. It would have been peaceful there if it wasn't for the biting wind.
JFK is an American icon. He lead America though an era of change, an incredible era era where America started to live out out some of it's dreams. And battle some of its demons.
The museum is fascinating. Unlike Australia and much of Europe, the Americans charge through the nose for you to go to museums and galleries, so you hope that the visit is going to be worth you dishing out your hard earned coin. I arrived late afternoon, only just making the final cut off for visitors. I wish I had a lot longer. This is an amazing place. Fascinating. Reverent. And very, very well done.
I stayed in the atrium and pondered this flag for a long time before I was ushered out the door to the bus stop. It was a cool, blowy Boston day, the sky overcast, the night drawing in quickly as it tends to do in Massachussetts in October. Looking up amongst the railings and struts of the ceiling, the flag hangs as a symbol for everything America stands for.
In this majestic setting, you get an inkling into the greatness that America can be.
I don't make statements like this often.