Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembering To Be Proud

When was the last time you sung the National Anthem? Or waved a Union Flag? Remembrance Day reminded me they were questions I asked myself a fortnight ago. I felt a little sad about it. People from other countries just seem to be prouder of their history and heritage than we are.

Is it because we Brits have phased out expressions of our national identity over the years? Is it partly to do with the far right having appeared to colonise national symbolism, making the rest of us ashamed to associate ourselves with flags, songs and colours?

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember standing and singing the National Anthem fairly regularly. Even though my dad is an immigrant, I was a cub scout brought up on Wimbledon, the Boat Race, the Royal Wedding, and supporting any England team in action. If I'd have taken Norman Tebbit's "cricket test" I'd have been top of the class.

But 30 years on, sitting in the stands at Wembley, anticipating the American Football match last month, I felt a faint wave of embarrassment at the opening bars of the Star Spangled Banner. "These Yanks give it the big one at anything," I thought. Less than a minute later, I was reluctantly admitting it felt rather good. And, instinctively joining in with the ensuing National Anthem, probably for the first time in 10 years, I wondered why we Brits don't do this more often?

I don't know the answer and I don't know what we can do about it. But Remembrance Day should be a reminder that we can be proud of our history when we let ourselves. We should be. We've got a lot to be proud about. So why should we let our national introversion or a few EDL meatheads put us off from celebrating our heritage more often?

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