The NY Times is running a piece talking about how the World Cup has brought the German flag out in force (Hat Tip – The News Blog). Germans have been loathe to fly the flag too much lest they appear overly nationalistic, bringing back painful memories of WWII and the Third Reich. But having tens of thousands of fans in your country waving their own country’s flags makes it hard not to want to join in.

This represents a change, "a cathartic moment for Germany," as one longtime foreign observer, Gary Smith, director of the American Academy in Berlin, put it.

For most of the years since World War II, the Germans have not really been sure whether it was appropriate to display emblems showing that they loved their country.

For decades patriotism was associated with nationalism, and that most terrible manifestation of nationalism, blind obedience to an evil leader. If Germans loved Germany, it still seemed bad form to express that love in symbols like the flag.

"One and a half centuries after 1848, we have learned to value and show the colors of our flag as a sign of our democratic nation," the daily Die Welt editorialized after the abrupt ubiquity of the flag became a news story.

Good for them. Germany has done amazing things in the past 70 years. A unified Germany deserves to be proud of their team and their country for putting on what, so far, has been an outstanding World Cup.