G.K. Chesterton and the Patriotism of Flag Day

June 14, 2022

In an article published today in Providence, RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson and recent graduate of Regent University and Patterson’s research assistant since 2020, Abigail Lindner, reflect on “G.K. Chesterton and the Patriotism of Flag Day.”

They write:

American marketeers have promoted many “national days,” from Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May, to sell Mother’s Day cards and flowers) to National Donut Day (June 3) and Speak Like a Pirate Day (September 19). Among these, one important, congressionally recognized day is often overlooked: Flag Day (June 14).

Christians ought to carefully think about Flag Day, both in terms of symbols and in terms of citizenship. The prolific Christian author G.K. Chesterton wrote about the importance of national monuments, patriotism, and national symbols. At the end of World War I, Chesterton criticized—in ways that foreshadowed later work by C.S. Lewis and Christian Realists such as Reinhold Niebuhr—those who wanted to junk patriotic pride and symbols, such as flags, anthems, and accents, in favor of peaceful international homogeneity. Chesterton celebrated the authentic differences that kept England English, kept France French, and kept America American. The main reason for Chesterton’s position, beyond a personal affinity for England being the land of English people and English customs, was his sincere conviction that people must have some sense of pride in some clod of dirt to claim their humanity. He wrote, in response to H.G. Wells’s proposition for world peace via international governance and bland cosmopolitan citizenship, “Now nearly all normal men have in fact received their civilization through their citizenship; and to lose their past would be to lose their link with mankind.”

Read the full article: G.K. Chesterton and the Patriotism of Flag Day.”