I am mystified at the attitude of Canadians regarding the
lowering of flags. It seems Canadians no longer understand the
tradition and symbolic nature of this honour, and it is time we
relearn what it is about.
There was a time in this country when the symbolism of the
maple leaf was taught in school. There was a time the lowering
of the flag had great significance and meaning for our nation.
In the past 25 years, I have seen the tradition of
"half-masting" the national flag be misused more and more. It
has become a symbol that has had its meaning misunderstood as a
Now the national flag is lowered in many areas not only to
honour fallen soldiers and police officers or elected
officials, it is also lowered in response to just about
anything. I have witnessed our national symbol lowered for
sports figures, students, accident victims, victims of crimes,
victims of disease and the list goes on.
When the public is immersed in a culture that lowers the
flag under almost any circumstance its no wonder that its
meaning and symbolism is eventually lost.
The flag of Canada is a national symbol and traditionally
its ceremonial use is reserved for those who serve the country.
It is not and never has been a device for honouring the general
public. For citizens, this can be accomplished using provincial
or municipal flags. To lower our national symbol for those who
have not served the nation does more to dishonour those who
have served than not lowering the flag on the Peace Tower can
For our men and women of our armed forces, the highest
honour is not the "half-masting" of our flag. It is being
afforded the right of having our casket draped with it. That is
a right that is reserved for those who serve a nation. And it
is time we return to the tradition of using our national flag
as it is meant to be used.
Lowering the flag on Nov. 11  is a way to honour all
fallen members of our armed forces as they have all paid the
price. I feel that a return to tradition where our national
symbol is only lowered for those who have served the nation
speaks much louder than lowering the national symbol at will.
(formerly of Sudbury)