It’s Armistice Day and this morning, people in many countries will observe a moment’s silence as they have on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month for nearly 100 years.
Some might think it is dishonouring the sacrifices of so many to discuss changing the flag today.
But, contrary to the argument used by some who oppose change, nobody fights for the flag:
Chris Mullane, a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand infantry who served in Vietnam and later advised the US military on leadership after their unsuccessful Vietnam campaign, gave the 24-hour Flag Summit an entirely different perspective from other former servicemen.
“Nobody fights for the flag, I can tell you that right now. All this stuff about fighting and dying under it is a misconception. Now is the time for a flag change.”
The CEO of the RSA, Dave Moger, told the Summit yesterday that over 95% of the 100,000 membership was against changing the New Zealand flag. But Mullane, who is also the president of the Devonport branch of the RSA, said the perception that the flag was emotionally attached to New Zealand soldiers was not correct.
“When I was in Vietnam, I didn’t see the New Zealand flag at all. We had a regimental flag which had two silver ferns and a Kiwi on it – that’s what flew over our base.
“I didn’t see one New Zealand flag when I was there. Oh, yes…I did – one. It was in Saigon and was flying alongside the national flags of other nations involved in Vietnam.
“The Second New Zealand Division in World War II had a black flag with a silver fern; at Gallipoli, the only New Zealand flag there was taken there by Malone [Lieutenant-Colonel William George Malone, commander of the Wellington battalion] who rolled it up and put it away because the Turks started using it as a target.”
The New Zealand Navy didn’t change from the British ensign to the New Zealand version until 1968; the Air Force similarly didn’t change the roundel on the planes to a New Zealand version until well after the war. Dave Gallaher, the former All Black captain and soldier who died in World War I, was buried with the Southern Cross and the silver fern marking his passing.
“So I’d like to meet anyone who thought they died under the flag,” said Mullane.
“I’d probably need a ticket to another life but no one chooses to fight for a flag; I’m an old infantryman and I know you fight alongside your mates and they rely on you and you rely on them.”
The current flag was iconic, he said, but it was “absolutely” time for a change. He was a fan of the Kyle Lockwood red, white and blue silver fern flag because it reflected our past as well as our future. . .
Nobody fights for a flag, but today of all days we should remember that people fought for freedom.
Many still are and some are still dying for it.
But thanks to the sacrifices so many made, we have freedoms so many don’t and that includes the freedom to make history, peacefully.
Let’s make history by being the first country tohat peacefully chooses which flag represents us. – Kerre McIvor #ourflagnz