Can you name that flag?

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On The Way

by Olivia Fowler

Never do I feel as ignorant as when athletes from countries participating in the Olympics march into the stadium carrying their flags.

It’s true that there have been many changes since my sixth-grade geography class with Miss Maude Moore, when we were all assigned a country to study. Part of that assignment was to research the country, write a report and draw a replica of their flag.

My country was Lebanon, and I remember how well the flag turned out and how proud I was of it. The flag’s main feature was a large cedar tree. The famed “cedars of Lebanon” were used by King Solomon in building his temple. The cedars have been harvested by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Romans and the Turks.

Queen Victoria of England paid to have a high stone wall built around a large remaining grove of trees in 1876 to protect them from grazing goats. Except for the flag, much has changed since then.

And no, the information above was not pulled out of memory but Googled, because the only part I remembered was the part about King Solomon.

It was amazing how few flags we could identify when the athletes marched. In addition to the vast ignorance brought to light by this was the surprise we felt when the country was announced and we realized we had never heard of it. Or at least, couldn’t remember hearing of it.

We are hopeless with the names of the athletes, also. Here’s another one that required a Google.

Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda of Russia won the gold in the two-man bobsled. We refer to him as the Russian guy who is so old for an athlete (39) and has competed in so many Olympics (five) and was coached by a Canadian (Pierre Lueders).

By the way, we were able to identify the Canadian flag without help from the announcer.

We also take pride in recognizing the Swiss flag, the Italian flag, the flag of Great Britain, the Mexican flag, the Japanese flag and the French flag. Oh, and also the American flag.

If we were ever on a game show, heaven forbid, we would not win the cash prize in geography. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.

It’s humbling to realize I can identify more song birds and flowers than countries. It’s disgraceful.

In our defense, there have been countless changes in the world since we’ve become adults. Countries have split, been renamed, changed governments and in some cases, no longer exist as we once knew them.

Maybe we need to take a course in the geography of the modern world. It couldn’t hurt. But there’s no assurance how long the information learned would be current, and I, for one, can’t guarantee the knowledge would stay with me. There’s only so much room in the brain for this stuff. If we don’t need the information on a daily basis for survival, it quickly fades away. It would be nice to be able to retain it at least until the next Olympics.