Friday, July 4, 2014

The Sherlock Holmes School of Flag Design.

I really think I would have liked Sherlock Holmes.

Not because of the detective skills, or the adventures, but just because of the way he thought.

"It is always a joy to me to meet an American," he said to Frances Hay Moulton in "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor," "for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a Minister in far gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."

Impractical, idealistic . . . the kind of thing that most Americans or Britons would pooh-pooh without a second thought. It was one of those moments we got to see Sherlock Holmes use his fertile imagination for something other than spinning alternative theories to explain a set of circumstances. Sherlock Holmes the dreamer coming to the fore. The kind of guy who would just make up an occupation from whole cloth and spend his life making it come true.

The idea of bringing up America rejoining England on our Independence Day seems a bit counter-intuitive, but Sherlock Holmes doesn't say, "will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the world-wide British Empire." He says "world-wide country" . . . that apparently, England and America were going to run between them.

But if you ever look at attempts to show what "a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes" looks like, you may have noticed that most often you see both flags repeated twice in alternate corners of the new flag. Quarters of the flag . . . like there's really room for two other countries to be splitting the world with America and England. But what could those countries have been in Holmes's mind? Canada and Australia? Russia and China? Germany and France? Spain and Japan? Or perhaps the four major historical lands of the British Empire, America, Canada, India, and Australia, all quartering a Union Jack somehow, with Britain as their District of Columbia. (That, however, would have been a little more sneakily bringing in British dominance than Holmes's friendly statement would imply.)

See, it's just a fantastic, impractical notion, this world-wide Union Jack/Stars and Stripes nation notion of Sherlock Holmes. But that's what makes it kind of cool. A sign that Sherlock Holmes liked to play.

And even though it may be hard to work out in its details, the idea that a patriotic American and a patriotic Briton could live together as a part of one proud global nation is something that we Americans can even embrace on our Independence Day. 

For as independent as we may be from foreign rule, we're still part of this one great planet. And in our best moments, we don't need space aliens to come fight with Will Smith as they blow up major cities to bind us all together as Earthlings, as happened in the movie Independence Day (a film that Sherlock Holmes might have really liked, considering what he said above).

So "Happy World-wide Country Day, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" I'm kind of a dreamer as well.


  1. The French flag would be the easiest to incorporate from what I hear - the one they usually raise is all white.

    1. Hey, now! Sherlock Holmes was a good part French!

  2. Actually, the State Flag of Hawaii is probably the prototype of such an Anglo-American CoDominium.