Flying the French flag

The French flag flies at an Armistice Day ceremony in Guéret, France.

The French flag flies at an Armistice Day ceremony in Guéret, France.

Americans harbor an intense love for the Stars and Stripes.

It’s a common sight to see the American flag not only flying at many businesses but also at sporting events and outside people’s homes. The flag is on T-shirts, hats, and even bikinis (which were designed in France, by the way). For the United States, the flag stands as a symbol of patriotism and acts as a popular motif.

Here in France, I see the French flag outside of government buildings (namely city hall). I also saw it during an Armistice Day ceremony to honor military forces. But I don’t usually see it anywhere else. No one wears T-shirts with the French flag.

I asked some of my French coworkers about the protocol for flying the flag. They said displaying it outside one’s home makes a statement, and not a patriotic one like in America. If a French home flies the country’s flag, it signifies that the household supports the National Front, an anti-immigration political party in France.

It’s strange that displaying a country’s official flag in that very country can be controversial. I never even realized that Americans have such a fervor for their flag until a few weeks after living here. This week, I taught some of my classes the national anthem of the United States, playing a rendition by Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl in 1991. I started seeing the video clip how my French students must see it.

There are so many flags being waved. 

Wow, there’s one flag as big as this classroom.

That’s weird. Someone in the crowd is holding up a sign that reads “God Bless America.”

Americans have a great love for the flag, and they don’t reserve it just for Independence Day. But I wonder if the flag’s power is cheapened because of its overuse in bikinis, underwear, and other places where you probably don’t want to see your national flag.

  1. Sharon Dunten said:

    Interesting that the French flag is used for political reasons or only government or official ceremonies. American is a different culture and still a very young country compared to France. I guess I see the Confederate flag as a political and racist statement … But we have the rights to fly it here.

    Dale and I flew our Stars and Stripes non-stop when our niece left from a US Army in Germany base to Iraq during the beginning of the second Gulf war. She was in a medical unit and saw the first casualties of this decade long war. After she returned to the states, we gave her the flag. It was weathered and faded because she was gone for 9 months. She still has it folded and encased in a flag holder today. Yeah, we do see our flag differently.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • That’s a nice way to use the flag. Ever since I found out what flying the French flag in front of your home means, I’ve been on the lookout for homes that have the flag. So far, I haven’t found any.

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