Friday, October 5, 2007

Flags of our fathers - letters from Nahr El Bared.





Army celebration due to victory in Nahr El Bared over Muslim extremists Fath el Islam are sweeting the nation - and everyone is pitching in, including the army itself which has launched several campaigns of thanking back the Lebanese for all the support they have demonstred. Two such executions were plastered on billboards all over the place, one saying "To the Lebanese... the salute goes to you" (In a reverse of an ad where Lebanese where shown saluting an army member), the second is a visual of a rose with the headline "from the army of the country, to its people/family." One visual - which was made by Publicis (Specifically creative director Sami Saab) shows the Lebanese cedar being irrigated by the names of the fallen martyrs in Nahr El Bared.
What was so stricking for me about the visual was that the layout resembled a lot the original Lebanese flag when it was first drawn by the MPs who came up with it. The rationale behind the flag was that the cedar tree, sitting prominantly between the two red ribbons MUST touch both ends of the ribbons because it is being irrigated by the blood of its people (Symbolized by the color red).
It is interesting that one of the reasons why the cedar was set to touch both ends was - as everything else in Lebanon - mostly pragmatic. Since the pan-Arab leaning fraction of the MPs did not really approve of the chistian0-biblical references of the Cedar tree, there were hopes that either the Cedar would not be included in the flag, or that its size would be diminished (And with time, perhaps taken all together), so by insisting that the cedar would touch boths ends, there a moral reassurance for the Christians that the Cedar would remain prominent.
My only disappointment with the Publicis campaign was that the ranks of the fallen martyrs ought not have figured on the flag - all martyrs stand on the same footing in front of death, the biggest equalizer of them all.
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