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Perspective: A flag that unites

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My childhood hometown has a flag. That could go down in history as the least interesting start to a story. Let me set the stage. I grew up in a small town, approximately 1000 people, one stop light, plenty of farmland. And one flag. Our flag showcases a train, highlighting our founding on a 19th century rail line as well as our position on a modern system of bike trails following that same old line.

This train-centric flag recently made its way from our small Midwest hamlet all the way to New Zealand, as I found out when I stumbled across a YouTube video of Kiwi flag lovers hosting a “Best Flags of the World” competition! I was stunned to realize not only was my teeny childhood home known to this country across the ocean, but our flag was, in fact, winning!

As I listened to the New Zealand hosts wax poetic about their love for this flag, I couldn’t help but think about how much smaller our world has become. I grew up thinking my town WAS the world and now we’re connected with the other side of the globe. And connected not through war, disaster or hate but through joy. Simple, unassuming joy.

Its easy these days to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. The weight of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The weight of uprisings against gendered violence and oppression in Iran. The weight of the desperate need for change in our own communities. We’re connected through that weight. But we’re also connected with our neighbors, near and far, by the lightness that is our collective, pure, and powerful joy.

Lynnea Erickson Laskowski is a former resident (and forever enthusiast) of the DeKalb area. Originally from Iowa, Lynnea moved to DeKalb in 2011 to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She currently lives in Washington DC with her toothless dog.