The new conscripts at the military base stationed in Coyhaique (Chile) have taken the oath to the nation today. Technically speaking, it was before the nation (the patria or fatherland) and to the flag.
My favourite part of any travel is spontaneity. That’s why I enjoy traveling alone. I loved getting lost in Rome, discovering free museums in Paris, and attending a military ceremony in a remote town in southern Chile. Spontaneity is to travel an unexpected flavor in any meal. I simply love it.
The flag embodies the nationhood and concentrates the values of courage, honour, and loyalty that the military often claim to defend. Today’s speech by Teniente Coronel Bartolomé Vivar Ornat highlighted the importance of the nation alternatively referring to the (Chilean) people and the fatherland (as, literally, the territory). I found this a little ironic because the four regiments in this region were post-boundary conflicts with Argentina.
The Chilean jura a la bandera (oath to the flag/nation) made me think about several things. First, you have noticed that I found it difficult to translate. For me, it sounds quite natural to oath to the flag, but I think it is because we mean not the flag as the piece of cloth with colours we love, but rather the symbol of our independence, our self-determination, our cultural markers, our history. It is the best simplification of our own identity (whatever that is). No wonder why we wear it in football matches, in every ceremony, and we hang it from our windows. Yet, in English the expression is not like that. You take an oath from someone to the nation.
What (the fuck) is the nation?
Another thing I thought about is the symbolism of dates. In Argentina, this oath is taken on June 20th, the day General Manuel Belgrano passed away since he is the creator of the national flag. However, in Chile they do it on July 10th to commemorate the sacrifice of the Battle of Concepción (1882), when a whole unit was killed by the enemy in the context of the Pacific War. In Bolivia, Flag Day is celebrated on August 17th, to mark the first national flag but I don’t know if the military oath is on the same day.
Part of my research deals with the idea of nation and the way people materialize it (such as hanging a flag from their window, naming streets, etc). I am really looking forward to delving into these themes.