I was born an American, but I got over it. In 1967, the Viet Nam war was too much for a Korean war veteran, and I decided to emigrate. I had several countries in mind but visited Canada first. I crossed the border at sundown and watched the lowering of the new Canadian flag. To understand my elation, you would have to participate in an American, corpse-de-ballet, flag-lowering grovel, complete with saluting, bugle calls, triangular folding, glycerin tears and synthetic-rubber reverence. But that Canada Customs agent, with his hat on his head and his cigar jutting from his mouth like the proud bowsprit of a Grand Banks schooner, reefed the flag off the halyards, sauntered across the lawn dragging it behind him, balled it up and stuffed it into the trunk of his car on top of his spare tire, tool boxes and hockey armor.
“By God!” I exclaimed. “This country is for me!” so I emigrated and became a Canadian citizen as soon as I could.
Oh, please! Can’t we keep this? Can’t we please ball up all the empty, chauvinistic, maudlin, anthem-singing, flag-worshipping quasi-patriotism and stuff it south of the border where it belongs?
Vancouver, March 20, 1998