In Brazilian capital Brasília, on the first Sunday of each month there is a flag-changing ceremony at the Plaza of the Three Powers in the very center of the capital. The plaza is bordered by the Supreme Court, the Congress buildings and the Brazilian White House – the Palácio do Planalto.
The Brazilian flag at the Praça dos Três Poderes is said to be the biggest in the world “that is regularly hoisted” (according to Wikipedia) – at 168 square meters – and it flutters in the wind atop a flagpole that soars 100 meters into the air.
Each month the flag-changing ceremony is hosted by a branch of the Armed Forces. Sunday, May 1, for example, the Army was responsible and presented a show by some 600 students from the Military High School of Brasilia (“Colégio Militar de Brasilia – CMB – Batalhão Escolar”) and their band (with 180 students), a choir of one hundred voices, dancers and bagpipe players.
Hundreds of people watched the ceremony in the plaza. Patrícia Lobo, a civil servant, said she likes to attend the ceremony whenever she can as it stirs up feelings of citizenship.
“It is a beautiful ceremony. It helps create feelings of love for our country,” she declared. Another onlooker, Jorge Xavier, who is in the military service, called the ceremony a good example of “…nationality and the place of the military in society.”
This month the ceremony, usually a light, festive occasion (although the Brasília sunshine can be harsh on a cloudless day), took place against the background of not one, but two unprecedented attacks on the flag.
On April 13, a man the police later said had mental problems, climbed up the flagpole, some 80 meters high, and managed to set the flag on fire (only a small piece was actually burnt).
And then, on April 27, three men climbed the flagpole once again threatening to set the flag on fire as part of a labor dispute protest.
They are former members of the Air Force who claim to represent 13,000 soldiers (Association of Specialized Air Force Soldiers) who were discharged between 1994 and 2001, all wanting to be readmitted).
The three men were part of a group that has been protesting loudly for some time in front of the Palácio do Planalto.
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