June 6th AKA flag quagmire day
Sweden’s National Day on June 6th coincides with anniversary of the Allied D-day invasion of Normandy.
Swedes celebrate this day with a national day off, BBQs, and various types of celebrations including swearing-in ceremonies for new citizens.
On this day last year, I became a Swedish citizen giving me dual or shared citizenship with the US.
So which flag to fly? As I usually acknowledge the anniversary of the D Day invasion by displaying my American flag.
For the record both nation’s practice zealot flag worship. As an American I cop to our flag waving nature but I’ve yet to meet a Swede that admitted that their flag displaying habits might be a bit over the top. In Sweden, when the conversation turns to patriotism, nationalism and flags, the critique falls immediately on Americas for the obvious reasons.
However, when one points out that Swedes decorate their Christmas trees with flags , lay dinner tables for birthday parties with them and fly one on every vacation home or cabin, they sit and ponder aloud, “Ja so…I never thought about it…..but surly we are not as flag crazy as you….”
“You put flags on Christmas trees. What does nationality have to do with Christmas? A child can not dress as an Angel at the Christmas pageant yet it is acceptable to ring your tree with Swedish flags?”
“Ok by me, but who is flag obsessed again?”
I am grateful to my adopted nation and all the abundance and benefits membership bestows upon me, safe bike lanes, paid parental leave, a national all inclusive health care system etc.
Yet I always fly the American flag on June 6th.
I intend not to snub the Swedes on their national day, nor rub their nose in their chosen neutrality during World War II. Rather I wish to honor the brave Americans as well as the Australian, Belgian, Canadian, Czechoslovakian, French, Greek, Dutch, New Zealand, Norwegian and Polish troops who began to wrestle Europe from the fascist grip of the NAZIs that day.
And to honor the thousands who gave their lives that day to insure that nations like Sweden might continue to create the society from which its people benefit.
Recently a friend told of an encounter experienced while visiting Euro Disney with his family a few years ago.
While waiting in line the attendant asked if he spoke French.
“No sorry I don’t.”, my friend responded
“What a tragedy.” He snarked.
“Can you speak German?” my friend asked the Frenchmen
“ Non, of course not.”
“You are welcome.” My friend replied.
So Happy Swedish National Day! Raise a glass of aquavit, eat some meatballs, dance to ABBA and fly your flag. Also take a moment to recall the sacrifices made on this day so many years ago to assure the abundant quality of life we enjoy so much.