"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Flags, and stories of the invaded, occupied, free

 The world is full of countries that have been independent, occupied, and freed over the centuries. Among the readers of today's blogs are citizens of two of those countries, and I've experienced stories involving both--The Philippines and  Ukraine.
The Philippines have a long history and were colonized and settled by the Spanish, taken over by America, and occupied by the Japanese.
The flag is integral to that history. As a result of the Spanish American War, the country became a U.S. Territory  but the revolutionaries who had fought Spain under the flag, then declared war on America. Most hostilities ended in 1902, but some continued until 1913. In 1916 the U.S. passed the Philippine Autonomy Act, pledging independence. It was partially granted in 1935, but WWII interrupted, and Americans suffered more than 62,000 casualties and 13,000 deaths in the war against the Japanese. The Philippines were granted complete independence in 1946.
That history is vivid to me because years ago a friend of our newspaper was a doctor who had survived the Bataan Death March. His stories were chilling
The flag is different in that it twice as long as wide. The eight primary rays of the sun represent the first group of provinces to start the 1898 revolution against Spain. The three stars represent the country's three regions, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. White for equality and fraternity; blue for peace, truth and justice; red for patriotism and valor. The white and sun symbolize unity, freedom, peoples democracy and sovereignty. If the country is at war, the red stripe goes on top.
Ukraine's flag was adopted in 1918 in its short lived Ukrainian People's Republic, following the Russian Revolution, but was later changed to red and red-blue flags as part of the USSR. It was officially restored in 1992 following independence, and flag day has been celebrated since 2004 on Aug. 23.
The colors symbolize the blue skies and golden wheat fields of the steppes, but the first representations of the colors for the Ukraine go back to pre-Christian times for ceremonies and represented fire and sky.
I remember growing up that one of my fellow high school students was a blond-haired girl who had Ukrainian royal blood. Her parents and grandmother had fled the Soviets.  That made the threat of communism very real to me.

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