A Sea of Flags

LDS missionaries are known for developing a love for the people and cultures of the areas where they serve.  It is a common idea for missionaries to bring home a flag of their mission area. A flag would look great on the wall in the dorm.  It could be flown or displayed at a missionary reunion.  That would let people know who is who.  Nevertheless, it is not always easy to find a flag in Mongolia.  Exactly what store sells flags in Vanuatu?  In North Dakota, you can find a U.S. flag, but where do you get a state flag?  So, it is not surprising that many missionaries return home without the hoped for flag.  Other searches for a missionary take priority over finding a flag.  Well, for many elders and sisters returning home, it is good ol’ mom to the rescue.

It is nothing unusual at Colonial Flag to have missionaries or family members purchase the flags of mission areas.  Nevertheless, flags have special meaning flags that can be heightened by events.  The recent disasters in Japan have strengthened the bonds between returning Japanese missionaries and the people, that through service, they had grown to love.  Family members, anxious for the safe return of their missionary sons and daughters also feel kinship and concern for the people still suffering in a land far across the world from Utah.  Feelings hard to communicate in words can sometimes be expressed symbolically, sometimes with flags.  This has led some stories worth retelling.

To convey feelings of sorrow for the suffering of the people of Japan, Colonial Flag Company displayed six Japanese flags at half staff in front of the Colonial showroom in Sandy, Utah.

On Wednesday, a woman came into the store seeking Japanese flags.  Her son, who had been serving in the Japan Sandai Mission, would be returning on Friday.  She wanted to welcome him and his companions with a throng of friends and family members all waving Japanese flags.  When there were not enough flags on the selves to fill her order, two flags were retrieved from the poles in front of the store.  Colonial’s employee, who filled the order, also had a son returning from a mission in Korea on Friday.  As luck would have it, her son and the returning Japanese missionaries arrived on the same plane.  To those who saw the sea of waving Japanese flag at the airport, it was a moving scene.  However, for our employee it had added meaning.  She had the satisfaction of helping a mother make that symbolic gesture on the safe return of her son.

On the next day, Saturday, it was after store hours.  The tills were closed.  Just as the front door was being locked a car pulled up and a woman jumped from the car pleading to buy a Japanese flag.  Obviously feeling strong emotion, the woman explained that she had just spoken to her son who had been serving in the earthquake ravaged area.  He and others had been transferred to Nagano.  Knowing her son was safe, she wanted to express her felling by displaying the Japanese flag.  Paul Swenson, Colonial’s owner, personally sold her two flags making change out of his own wallet since the cash registers were closed.  He even shaved a little bit of the price to make it all work.  It may seem only a little thing, but the woman had tears in her eyes as she thanked him.

It is hard to explain what a flag means.  Sometimes it is easier to see it.  Always, we at Colonial Flag are proud and happy to be a part in the display of flags.   It has meaning to us also.

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