Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Flags and Patriotism...Happy Together...

It's Fourth of July weekend, and I have to make up my mind. Will I go attend the Greeley Independence Day Parade today or stay home to watch Germany play in the 2010 Soccer Worldcup against Argentina? It's a dilemma. I love going to the parade. It's the only time of year when you see lots of people in the streets, and the flags, floats, horses, rodeo queens, and marching bands look so colorful and eyepleasing.


But what flag should I put up this morning? Our family owns two flags: An American and a German flag which we fly in front of our house to represent our different nationalities. I have to say it is mostly my husband who puts up the flags - even for the German holidays and soccer matches.

Since I grew up in Germany, I have very a different attitude when it comes to displays of patriotism. I wonder what history lessons in school look like in Germany these days. But when I was growing up, the last two years of highschool history lessons were mainly spent on the evils of Nazism. The slogan "NEVER AGAIN" was pounded into our heads. Flags and displays of National pride were all part of this evil, if not commited, but allowed by my parents and grandparents.

The other day I was listening to my favorite local radio station, KUNC. They had a story about Germany and the struggle over flagfree zones during the Worldcup. If you missed it, please go here for an interesting read on this 4th of July weekend:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128267395&ft=1&f=1004


Of course, I am cheering for Germany this weekend. I will skip the parade this year and go watch the game now... I think one thing I have learned living in the US is that displaying a flag and a sense of National pride are not always bad. It is okay to fly our two flags together on this day. We can live together as two peaceful Nations but must remember that this priviledge had to be earned at times through bloodshed and hard lessons...


2 comments:

Britta said...

Hi Ulle,

you have missed out on a lot, I guess, having lived in the States for how many years now? Indeed, having attended the same school and having been pounded with the same kind of guilt you have, I also always felt rather odd at seeing any displays of patriotism. When we grew up, it simply wasn't done, patriotism was eyed with skepticism. One could be proud of one's own achievements but never for the chance of fact in which nation one happened to be born or for forefathers' achievements (as we so well knew we had to share a collective guilt about our forefathers' failures).
I recall my attendance at a Philadelphia baseball game in 1988, when I was 20 or 21. An American family took me and my German friend to see the game. When the national anthem was played, both of us were first surprised and then confused. Everyone stood up, we didn't, It wasn't our ynthem and it never occurred to us to stand up for our anthem - had they played it - either. I often think back of this moment of utter discomfort I felt. Today, I would no longer have a problem with this, of course. I see patriotism differently now than I did then.
Ever since reunification, things have changed, we have a new - and I might claim - much healthier appreciation of a sound patriotism. Not a patriotism in the sense of the first verse of the German anthem (which is forbidden for the words: "Germany, Germany above all") but in the sense of the now used third verse, which hails good values such as "unity, justice and freedom"... It is no longer frowned upon if a German waves a flag in front of his house and at inter/national mega-events, such as soccer world championships, it is even expected that you display a good sense of patriotism. Supermarkets supply the paraphernalia and gadgets to decorate youself, your car, your house, even your lunch box (this week I saw two kinds of "Halbzeiteier"/eggs for midbreak: one kind was dyed black, red, and yellow, the others were white with black dots, making them look like oval soccer balls. I stood in amazement...)
All in all, I have to say I am glad that Germans (and with them myself), have overcome this sixties' and seventies' neglect of appreciation of their nation. We have come to the point where we do not negate the horrors of the holocaust, but where we can appreciate ourselves again as Germans, who have a much greater history than just 1933-1945. It is about time we again see ourselves as the nation/region which brought about such greats as Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Martin Luther, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and the likes...

Grreetings from the Rhine,
Britta

germandolls said...

Thanks for the comment, Britta! Maybe I should invite you as guest writer? Your comment should really go in a post...
I am glad that we Germans can hold our heads high again and celebrate the good things we have given to the world: music, great thinkers, and superior soccer!