Urimi Ditën e Flamurit të gjithë Shqiptareve!! All Albanians, congratulations on tomorrow’s flag day. On November 28th Albanians remember the Albanian flag, which has long flown over the Albanian people. The flag, which features a black, double-headed eagle on a red field is the flag of Albanian people, wherever they might live.
The design itself apparently comes from the seal of Skenderbeu, theAlbanian military hero who united the Albanian people for a time to fight against the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. The seal, which was discovered in 1634, was bought by the Danish National Museum in 1839 and remains there today. According to Wikipedia:
The inscription is in Greek and reads Alexander (Skender) is an Emperor and a King. Emperor of the Romaic nations (Greeks) and King of the Turks, the Albanians, the Serbs and the Bulgarians. It naturally follows the inscription is laterally reversed. It is possible that the seal was made after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, since Skanderbeg is referred to as an Emperor of the Byzantines. The double eagle in the center of the seal is derived from the eagle of the Byzantine emperor, and this fact is also the most agreed upon among educated Albanians.
The devotion of the Albanians to the flag is pretty striking. This week it will be proudly displayed where ever you find Albanians. In the capital of Kosovo, Prishtina, you’ll see street vendors like this selling the most popular flags.
The flag itself is one of the challenges to imminent Kosovar statehood. When you ask any Kosovar what the flag of the future state of Kosovo would be the answer is always the same…the “shqiponja” or double-headed eagle flag. The problem is, naturally, that the state of Albania has already laid claim to that emblem. While I’m not absolutely certain of this, I’m pretty sure that no two countries can share the idential flag
In answer to this question, and in an attempt to create a unique Kosovar identity, former President Ibrahim Rugova proposed an alternative. This flag contains the black “shqiponja” on a red circle over a European Union blue background. The word “Dardania,” on a banner across the eagle. Dardania is the ancient name for the region roughly corresponding to modern Kosovo. Though it was hoped that this flag would be readily adopted by the Kosovar people, it has become more commonly known as “Rugova’s flag” or the flag of the LDK, Rugova’s political party.
Then, while reading the Iliria Post today I saw another flag proposal. This one is from former US Congressman Joseph DioGaurdi, the president of the American-Albanian Civic League. This design really shocked me. It places the Shqiponja on the blue field of the US flag. The descriptions below the design reads:
“I believe that this flag represents the heart and spirit of the Albanian people from the whole world, especially to those Albanians of the new state of Kosovo. It contains the national symbol (with the double-headed eagle) and the national colors (red and black. The white and red lines remind us of the major role which the USA has played in which it is known by the Albanian State after the first world war under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, under the leadership of NATO against Slobodan Miloshevic in 1999 and the present work…”
While I have a great deal of respect for DioGuardi’s work and support for the Albanian people I am amazed to see anyone recommend that another nation’s national emblem be so subsumed by another's. This isn’t long-term way for one nation to remember another. I cringe, for example, every time I see the Liberian flag, which looks exactly like the US flag only with one star where the US flag has fifty.
This is probably the last November 28th, the last Flag day, the last Dita e Flamurit, that Kosova will spend without having answered the question of what flag a future state will fly. By next November there will likely be a new flag and a new nation.