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Monday, March 27, 2017

The Story Behind My Love For the Flags

As I mentioned yesterday, I was sad when I noticed the flags were taken down after Trump's inauguration. I thought it was some sort of mourning for what the country will be experiencing for the next three-and-a-half years.

After I stepped out of Starbucks and onto the Ben Franklin Parkway, I noticed the international flags were back! I was taking pictures of pigeons when I noticed the British flag swaying in the wind. I was so happy to see it! I was also happy to see the UAE and Turkish flags blowing in the violent wind as well.

It seems weird that these flags are a big deal to me, but I remember the first time I traveled to the city alone in 2011. It was May 18, 2011, and I headed down to Center City after I signed the paperwork for my paid internship for SAT (Software Application Training) that was to start on Monday, May 23, 2011. It took an hour to sign all of the paperwork and once that was finished, I hopped onto the 104 to go to 69th Street free of charge, thanks to the man that gave me a SEPTA pass on bus 92 (that was the bus I took from King of Prussia to West Chester).

When I stepped off of the el at Suburban Station, I felt a little disoriented. Someone showed me the exit to get to Academy of Natural Sciences. Once I ascended the steps and I was outside, the humidity hit my face. I was directed to the Ben Franklin Parkway. At that time I was studying Arabic in college and once I saw the flag for the United Arab Emirates, I loved seeing the flags. I loved looking at all the different countries as I walked to the Academy of Natural Sciences. I loved pretending that I was walking to visit these countries.

My love for the flags grew from that day in May 2011. Every time my parents and I travel into Philadelphia, we stop to see the flags.

I remember one-time mom spotted Swaziland's flag, she blurted out: "remember that time you did that project on Swaziland?"

I laugh as I reply, "I do! I was in 9th grade and that project for social studies was so much fun!"

I've taken many selfies in front of the international flags, mostly on my way to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Though I've taken many going to the Art Museum and my author photo for As Far As The Eyes Can See is me standing in front of Lebanon's flag. Mom took it for me last Mother's Day when we stopped to get pictures of me in front of different Middle Eastern flags and Norway's flag.

When I finished taking my IELTS exam for Canadian immigration, I went to the Canadian flag hanging by the Philadelphia Free Library and took a picture of the flag to remind me of my goal. When I participated in the 5K for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in September 2016, I took a selfie of me in front of the Canadian flag to add to my vision journal. Of course, I took selfies of me walking for charity against other foreign flags.

I even took pictures for all of my penpals around the world. I would take pictures of their flags and state something, "Greetings from Philadelphia!" Most thought it was clever and a kind gesture. I always thought it was fun.

The night I noticed they were taken down that is when Trump signed his travel ban. It was a dark day full of anxiety. I remember taking Dramamine to ease my upset stomach. I was also scared about my moving plans.

In the months that followed, I was invited to immigrate to Canada, Trump's travel bans were lifted, and the flags being hung again symbolized hope. These flags bring hope to me and that is why they're important in my world.


  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    Great post, dear friend! From an early age I have been fascinated by the color combinations and designs of international flags. I can see how you became anchored to them as you gained a measure of independence, started visiting Philadelphia on your own, and passed by the row of flags as you walked to the Academy of Natural Sciences. In a similar fashion, back in the 70s, I was inspired by and anchored to the Elton John single "Philadelphia Freedom." Allowing the flags of other countries to wave in the U.S. is a sign of hope that we someday people all around the world will share the earth in peace.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend JM!

  2. That's a beautiful post, Jessica. It's good to know why you love the flags. You're born to travel.