Flag diversity to mark residents' former lands
by Pat Krochmal (pkrochmal < a t> pioneerlocal.com) - Lincolnwood Review
July 19, 2010
Lincolnwood is pulling out the flags of almost 50 lands to celebrate August as Diversity Month.
Members of the Lincolnwood Human Relations Commission have been cleaning and repairing the flags that soon will top poles along Lincoln Avenue to represent the countries of origin from which the community's residents have come.
Most of the flags represent sovereign countries, though some represent recognized lands within nations (Scotland, Puerto Rico) or geographically discrete ethnicities (Assyria). Each will be combined with an American flag to celebrate the unity within the village, said Luis Martinez, secretary of the commission.
"The program, which started about five years ago sponsored by the commission and the police department, began with about 20 to 25 flags that were put up along Pratt Avenue. Then, it grew so quickly that we had to display them along Lincoln," Martinez said.
"It's a tremendously popular program. The flags have sparked so much interest that they are enjoyed not only by our residents, but also by people passing through," he added.
Residents have donated $50 to see the flags of the countries of origin wave in the breeze over Lincolnwood.
But keeping the flags fit to fly is another thing.
They may fly for only a month a year, but intense sun and severe storms can really take a toll on them.
"We check them over every year and those that have frayed seams or stitching go to a dry cleaner for repair. This year we had about 20 that needed repair. A couple of years ago, a storm battered some so badly several had to be replaced," Martinez said.
The 3-by-5-foot feet flags cost anywhere from $35 to $70, depending on how intricate the design and coloring.
The Assyrian flag is the most intricate and therefore, the most expensive. And not one, but two Polish flags are flying, one with and one without the white eagle. Even the flag of Wales is whipping in the wind and it isn't a sovereign country, Martinez said.
Other flags not previously mentioned include those from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Russian Republic, Scotland (with rampart), Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the former nation of Yugoslavia.
The commission asks donors for $50 a flag to even out the expense. And residents may also donate any amount to help cover the cost of a worn flag.
"We even took a $1 donation, because it was given with the right spirit," Martinez said.
However, this year contributions may be more important than before.
Although the commission has a small budget on which to operate, its members are trying to be proactive with their allocated funds because of budgetary constraints, Martinez said.
"We live in a very diverse community and we should have flags representing everyone. It's an indication of how the people of Lincolnwood are all inclusive and have pride in our diversity," Martinez said.
For more information, contact Sgt. Mark Weidner (847) 673-2167.