Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Boy Vexillologist

When I was six years old I developed a fascination for flags. I borrowed my dad's World Almanac to look at the different flags of the countries of the world. The colors and the national emblems often portrayed in them intrigued me so much I decided to memorize all of them. My dad would show me a national flag and I would answer the name of the country. This ability to recognize all of the flags of the world led me to learn all the capitals of the world. So early on I felt I had a special gift for being able to recall the names of countries, their capitals, and their flag. Naming the capital of Mongolia was my coup de grace (Ulaan Bator), people would gasp in awe. Word got to my teachers of my so called good memory. So soon enough I was going from classroom to classroom where students would ask me about the capitals of different countries. As I recall I did not miss naming the right flag or the right capital or the right country. One day when I got back from school I found three big corrugated boxes in the living room. Dad was early from work so I asked him about the flags. He looked at me and said-"You have not opened them yet?" They are for me??!!. I ran as fast as I could and opened the first box. Inside I found a light blue rack bearing the seal of the United Nations in the middle. I have never seen anything like it before. There were three segments. Each segment had about 35 holes on top. I opened the second box. It was a bunch of table flags made out of silk. The third boxed contained another set of flags. I felt I opened a treasure box. They were beautiful, shiny and soft to the touch. I remember taking the first flag, Afghanistan, and waving it. I took all the flags and one by one placed them in the rack to be displayed.

I have always been fascinated by the different countries of the world. It has been a leitmotif, so to speak, in my life. My passion for languages and world cultures led me to major in International Relations at Syracuse University many years later. I am so grateful my dad got me this present. To this day I see that magical day as the day my passion for knowledge started.