Pride in the American flag may seem fervent in the United States – but it has its match in Haiti. On a recent visit I saw clear evidence of that at the Cross-supported Divine Shelter Schools, located in Saintard.
As soon as I entered one of the kindergarten classrooms, I was bombarded with a bevy of Flag Day activities. Children waved miniature Haitian flags. They sang songs of celebration and praised God for their country. One song in particular, “My Flag,” told the story behind the flag’s design.
From that song, I learned that Haiti – a former French colony – became independent after a slave rebellion in 1804. While the blue and red bands are modeled after the French flag, the white band has been removed. Replacing it is a centered national coat of arms depicting a trophy of weapons ready to defend freedom, along with a royal palm for independence.
Haitian independence, as children learn in school, came at a steep price. Haiti had to pay a large indemnity to France, and many countries — including the U.S. – initially refused to acknowledge Haiti for fear it would encourage a slave revolt on U.S. shores.
As I started to leave the school, the children filed out front for a photo. Naturally, the young children brought their tiny flags, happily waving them for the camera, shouting “Thank you, Jesus!” It was a wonderful moment, seeing the children praising the Lord for their country.
Every time I visit Haiti, I learn more and more about its faithful, resilient people. The slave rebellion that led to their independence was such a brave event in world history, it has led to continuing challenges for this impoverished nation. However, the flag remains a symbol of hope and pride. And that’s as it should be.