Don't we just love symbols? Something easily identified, standing in for a different entity, one that is larger and unwieldy when put into words. They can sum up the familiar, and with them, we can construct a world of reflected identity. They can remind us of who we are, and they may inform others about us, too.
It might be a logo. Maybe a cross. A letter, perhaps. Often, too, it is a flag, and this past Saturday, Mexico celebrated its own. That green, white and red banner with the country's coat of arms in the center, the flag we know today is one of the most recognizable symbols of Mexico. Some might say that the Virgin of Guadalupe finds herself as a deeper, more visceral symbol of the country, and she herself even found herself on early Mexican flags--a symbol of those who fought for independence from Spain.
But for me, the flag seen these days over landmarks and city plazas--reaching dimensions of monumental size--and sometimes found in miniature, suction-cupped to windshields, carries a symbol that holds meaning even for me; someone not born to pledge allegiance to what it means.
It's that eagle in the center, wings outspread, the serpent in its teeth and talons, atop the cactus in a small, lacustrine island. It is a symbol not only of Mexico, or of the Mexica (Aztec) people, who upon seeing it as a completion of prophecy, knew where they were to call home. It can also mean something for so many; a symbol of destiny connected with a sense of place.
Other symbols of Mexico were present on Saturday for us, even if Patricio and I don't have a Mexican flag to our name. The morning was spent preparing for a slow afternoon of paella, shrimp stew, opened bottles and sunshine, and the welcoming into our home of the most indisputable of Mexican symbols that I know--the cherished togetherness of family.
Flag day held its own meaning for me on Saturday, having nothing to do with military marches or a particular affinity with red, white or green. Now part of a family, I'm a part of Mexico, too. And that eagle in the coat of arms sure does speak to me of an identity somehow Mexican, of a destiny all my own, connected with a sense of place.