Union Jacks and Southern Skies - part two, section two
The Flag At War
An often heard argument has been that the flag should not be changed, as Australians have fought and died under it. Such an argument has interesting implications.
The Union Jack was the flag used by the Australian forces in the Sudan War (1885), the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1901), and the Boer War (1899-1902, i.e. both before and after Federation). The Union Jack was predominant in the First World War. During the Second World War "there was confusion about the Union Jack, the Defaced Red Ensign and the Defaced Blue Ensign". In the Korean War, Australians fought under the United Nations' Flag. As for Australians fighting under the present Commonwealth Flag, "the only war (undeclared) where that was definitively the case was the Vietnam War".(29)
Therefore, following the implications of such an argument, Australia should have kept the Union Jack as its flag. The notion is ridiculous. Even the Union Jack itself has been changed (in 1649, 1658, 1660, and 1800), and such a move would not have been considered as a sign of disrespect to Britain's military, or war dead. The fact is that a nation has an inherent right to change its flag.(30)
Indeed, as Harold Scruby and Brendan Jones have argued,
"The Australian naval ensign was changed in 1967 and [the] Australian Air Force ensign was changed in 1949 and again in 1982. Ex-servicemen proudly march on Anzac Day under these flags rather than the ones they "fought under". But what a spurious argument to suggest that our allies from Canada, South Africa and New Guinea fought for a lesser cause simply because they have subsequently changed their flags".(31)
Indeed, it would be safe to assume that Australians who went to war were fighting for reasons such as: for Australia, a way of life, their families and friends, their comrades-in-arms, themselves, adventure, and because they had to; they were not fighting "for a flag". They fought for other concrete reasons, not to maintain a particular design on a piece of cloth. Did they fight to stop the flag being changed in 1909 (the 1909 amendment) or in 1954 (the change from the Union Jack to the Commonwealth Flag)? The argument is ridiculous, and belittles the sacrifices of the Australian fighting forces.
Union Jacks and Southern Skies
Australian Nationalism Information Database - www.ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/~natinfo