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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Home under the dome

Among the busy hustle, bustle and downright disorientation of the last few weeks of school before Christmas break building up to the holidays with finals, there was a significant aesthetic addition to the campus of the University of Notre Dame. While these new decorations may have gone unnoticed during the last few weeks of the first semester, it would be near impossible to have not noticed the banners that adorn the University’s lamp posts bearing the flags of nations and states. The banners depict the flags of countries along with American states and territories that students of Notre Dame hail from in the spirit of what the University website calls, “ … a testament to our commitment that, while we come from different places, all arewelcome in our campus community.” 

While this sentiment is well-intended and gives the average student a little something to jazz up their mundane walk to class in the Indiana “permacloud,” there is something much moremeaningful with these seemingly insignificant flag banners. To be quite bluntly honest, these banners have gradually become an obsession of mine. I remember the first day that I saw the banner representing the State of Nebraska outside of my dorm on my walk to the Dining Halland the utter confusion that I felt. “Wow, it must be Nebraskan appreciation day or something!”While as tough as it must be to live in Nebraska (apologies to any Nebraskan Observer readers),my theory was squashed as soon as I did a little more looking around South Quad. As soon as I put the pieces together, it was like a maddening treasure hunt to find my own state and myrepresentation in the One Home Under the Dome banners. 

Being a proud Michigander since the day I was born, it did not take long for me to findthe prominently placed banner depicting the lousy state flag of my beloved home state. Right between Main Circle and the Eck Hall of Law flew the banner of the State of Michigan, and Icould not have been happier in my successful hunt of my treasure. I will bashfully admit that I did take a few photos of myself and the light pole banner and I am sure that in such a highlytrafficked area, someone must have seen me in my giddy state of excitement.While not everyone is as lucky to have their home banner hung in such a convenient spot,I walked past the same light pole that displayed my banner everyday multiple times on my wayto and from class in Debart. Every time I passed it, I felt a little twinge of serotonin rush throughmy body as I recalled all of the memories that I have made in that place that I first called homeand how much of my identity is based around my home state. 

However, I am no longer afforded the pleasure of seeing my state represented with theOne Home Under the Dome banners on campus. Admittedly, when I passed it from time to time,I would have the fleeting thought of how spectacular that Michigan banner would look hung upon my dorm room wall. Though I would never do such a thing, in the same tragic fate that alawn sign or traffic cone would meet on this campus, my beloved State of Michigan banner befell the same devious fate. This item likely lies right now in the hands of some sorry thief andcan no longer be enjoyed by the Michigander population of Notre Dame. 

My love of this series of banners has not stopped at the missing representation of my ownstate, in fact, I have started to take it as a personal mission on slow days to find the banners ofmy friends’ states and countries. While the university has provided an alphabetized list with thelocations of the banners that can be found at the link below, where is the fun in that? 

For me, the fun comes in the way that I will always be surprised at the home flags of myfellow Irish and the excuse it gives me to walk around outside on campus. In my unconventionalform of entertainment, as you will likely see if you try to find your home’s representation, it ismuch harder than it sounds to find one specific banner. This almost hunting for banners has become a way for me to destress and slowly come to appreciate the beauty of this campus we call home from all angles. A special challenge that I would give to the reader would be to findthe banners from the state of Texas or Tennessee as those are ones that personally, I have yet tofind.

You can contact Jack at jsirian2@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.