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Monday, 7 June 2004

The Last Chance

Topic: Eurotrash

Be warned: this post will progress from honour, to shame, to the unspeakable. I never promised you tasteful.

This article, 'Honouring the Brave', memorialises the final celebration of fourteen different nations' effort to defeat Hitler in the D-Day landings.

THEY came together for one last walk with old comrades and the ghosts of their brothers who stayed forever young.

They're smaller now these survivors of the Longest Day. Frail, stooped, white-haired and wide-girthed are the great liberators today. They hobble more than march, deep breaths puff out their cheeks and many need a stick, an arm or a chair to fight the ravages of time.

But they still have razor-sharp creases in the trousers and shoes they can see their lined faces in. Their barrel chests still fill with pride at the medals they bear. Medals which set them apart from us lesser men who will never be tested the same. They still attempt a ram-rod back, the chins still jut. They may be slower of foot than they were when they raced from their boats 60 years ago into ferocious German fire but there is still the same determined steel in their stride.

Age cannot wither these legendary veterans of Operation Overlord.

And as the survivors, now in their 80s and 90s, defied the heat of the French sun to officially walk together for the last time in front of the sands of Arromanches, they still looked like the callow young men who landed here to free the world from an awful tyranny.
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It was the first time the German chancellor was invited to the D-Day Landing ceremony, the men who survived are edging eighty now, and there will be no more large scale official ceremony in their honour in their, or our lifetimes.

I post the link not only to pay respect to the men who lost their friends, their family, their health and occasionally their peace of mind in the conflict. I post it also to point out to American readers the scale of heavily loaded references to Bush 'arriving late' - an obvious attack on American involvement in WW2.
[Context: Some time ago, I found myself on Anne's and Cyn's comments, having to explain the extent of anti-Americanism in Europe that stems not from Iraq, but is simply ever present and taken for granted at all levels. I felt real shock at the discovery that Americans weren't aware of this.
I mention this antipathy not to condone it, or to propagate it further - god knows, jingoism is execrable in any form - but because it dawned on me that American bloggers simply did not know about it, and were shocked when detected. Their shock, in turn shocked me
This sort of denigration is culturally unremarkable - so much so as to go unnoticed everyday in Europe, and nobody here has been 'invaded'. Essentially, any imperial power creates enemies - but it seems important to me that America lose it's feigned innocence about how the rest of the world perceives them. Nobody's happy with you guys. They never will be. You can't change that. Get over the shock.

Secondly, tomorrow in the UK is the first and last chance to see Venus cross the face of the Sun.
Nobody alive and in England this century will have had or will have again this opportunity. (The last occurrence ws 1882.)
At around half six tomorrow morning (earlier in the north, later in the south, according to the local rag), if you're outside, and you've not lost the art of making pinhole cameras, you can witness another ritual which won't be seen again in this generation. Try to see it with the naked eye, an' your eyes will be stuffed.

Edit: it's ok, I took the unspeakable references to poo out.

Best Blo'te of the Day So Far: Bandhag
"What if, contrary to the popular saying, you can take it with you?
How gutted would you be to get to the Other Side and find that even there you were priced out of the property market and that it was only the pious fuckers who'd sunk all their disposable income into ISAs and bonds instead of pissing it up the wall on booze, drugs and thousands of impulse-purchases that could afford the biggest, fluffiest, whitest clouds and the fanciest gold harps, while you had to share a flimsy Cirrus with your mates and fight over who used up the last of the manna?
Aetheism - you know it makes sense."

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:59 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 8 June 2004 7:27 PM BST
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Monday, 7 June 2004 - 8:52 PM BST

Name: sarah

I didn't realise that they didn't realise, I guess it comes from being surrounded by the somewhat anti-America attitude from birth.

However, the minute I saw Bush - and his grin that for some reason I find deeply offensive - giving a speech on News 24 for D-Day, I got annoyed. To then hear a British man (awful me, I never remember names) say in a polite fashion that perhaps a speech from someone who did his best to evade military service himself wasn't really a good thing made me cheer up. I know I'm as guilty as everyone else of this attitude.

I'm sure there was a point to this comment somewhere, I just seem to have lost it :)

Tuesday, 8 June 2004 - 2:46 PM BST

Name: Nursie
Home Page:

Ug. This again. Bush is an idiot, you can't blame him on us, we didn't vote for him. OK, after gnashing of teeth, I'm NOT gonna get into this except to say this. We are remembering D-Day over here too. We may have arrived late but when we finally did get there, we gave our all, and a hell of a lot of lives for the cause. I would think that would be the one thing you couldn't fault us for. The one thing we did right in many years of @#%$!-ups. Over here, we are kind of proud of the result. God knows we have little else to be proud of. Don't we at least get this?

Tuesday, 8 June 2004 - 5:36 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

But that's what I'm (ineptly) trying to say - it's nothing to do with Bush. Bush has only been in situ a few years - this cultural attitude towards the States has existed all of my 33 years, and in fact, used to be much worse than at present.
Countries have grumbled about old foes for millennia. I just don't see any other modern country wringing their hands about it, as (possibly just liberal) Americans do. Can you imagine the French giving a stuff if we English thought they were ill mannered collaborators who smelt of cheese? It's kind of a compliment, of sorts, that Americans think the best of other countries - albeit perhaps a backhanded one, because it's naive.

On the D Day thing, I wasn't upholding the attitude of a tabloid article - I was using it as an example of how ingrown the jingoism is. (But, yes, I think you'd find most Europeans have a fairly conflicting attitude to that about US involvement!)

Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 6:40 PM BST

Name: Jen
Home Page:

As an American blogger, I personally have never been shocked by the anti-American sentiment. Rather, I've been saddened by it on many levels. It seems to me to be based on cummulative years of hereditary opinion with its origins in a disgust of our nation's political ideology, elected leaders, and global positions. Over time, this near hatred has bled over the lines and become a sentiment against all things/people/actions American. This is the shocking bit, if anything is shocking about it, to me.

The US is such a vast body of land, with a diverse population that mimics the global populace; to harbor a mass resentment of a country, and by definition its people, without regard to the diversity of opinion, personality, ethnicities, creeds, religions, races, and beliefs is nothing short of myopic and shallow. It is no different from the breed of racism that persists, based on nothing but ignorance of the facts and lack of willingness to accept differences.

No, it isn't Bush. It's every president since FDR and probably a few before him. It's a distaste for a perceived lifestyle, enjoyed by a small percentage of Americans. It's an incorrect but heartfelt belief that America = Arrogance, without consideration for the individuals.

Anyway. Just my opinion. But comparatively speaking, I can say that I harbor no reciprocal disdain, although were I to only consider the narrow breadth of knowledge that forms the anti-American sentiment, I'd certainly find ample cause to in many cases.


Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 6:58 PM BST

Name: billy
Home Page:

...this america thing does my head in...I love america and the americans I have met have all been wonderful - and yet as a nation they irritate it because I feel that ingerland should hold this important position in world it because 4 weddings and a funeral is still crap compared with 90% of hollywood it because I'd rather eat mcdonalds than a wimpey...or is it because they call a game between two local teams "the world series"...the fact is - I love america, I love americana, I just hate myself :^)...

Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 9:03 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

I think cultural dominance, Hollywood included, is a lot to do with it - it's borne of envy in many cases. I dunno, when I go to america, I meet the kindest most thoughtful people. Nothing like the stereotype. It doesn's surprise me that there are stereotypes, though - every country has them. Most countires are aware of what the rest of the world thinks of them, though. And carry on regardless (there's post-colonial for you, eh?)

Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 9:09 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

Yeah, and you're probly spot on about it's origins. But I don't think you should feel put upon about it - show me any country that doesn't have a national stereotype, cruelly assigned by its neighbours. (tangent: I hardly think that counts as racism, though. It would seem to devalue the seriousness of racism to count it that way, to me.)

I think Billy has a point too - Hollywood is a powerful way to put american stereotypes of other countries out into the world with no recourse. (tangent: I know I'm pretty blooming tired of the villain being English, actually)

And regarding reciprocal disdain - can I just say 'Canada'? The uneasy truce between your countries has long been a mystery to me, at least. TV shows both sides pretty vitriolic in their disdain.

Thanks for your comment - I love constructive conflict!

Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 9:31 PM BST

Name: Jen
Home Page:

I don't feel put on about it really, just mystified by the sheep like nature of harboring anti-Anything sentiment on those grounds. To further clarify, I merely meant the whole thing has qualities similar to those that breed a racist mentality, not to imply it is, necessarily, racism. Which of course is a whole 'other topic in the altogether.

Besides, what on earth do you mean by 'Canada'? Some of my best friends are Canadiens...honest!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2004 - 9:33 PM BST

Name: Jen

Agree on the Hollywood front, but are you saying we don't 'carry on regardless'? I'm of the opinion that much of the angry sentiment derives precisely because we do indeed 'carry on regardless'...

Friday, 11 June 2004 - 1:36 PM BST

Name: Saltation
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Nutgroist expressing the American syndrome quite nicely:

"Amazing historical research by CNN. I just watched several hours of their d-day documentaries and I discovered to my horror that i'd been taught lies at school. I honestly didn't know that it was a purely American operation. I thought the British, Canadians and other nationalities were involved. Why isn't this more well known?"

Friday, 11 June 2004 - 4:13 PM BST

Name: Jen
Home Page:

Hmmm. I have to wonder what school he attended. I was well-versed in the details. Moreso via my years at one of our renowned "bastions of liberal leanings", aka and American University. Besides which, I never had a history or current events teacher/professor/educator who wasn't all too happy to portray American involvement in any affair in the most negative light possible.

What many outside the USA borders seem to fail to grasp sometimes is that the beligerent anti-American sentiment within our own country is at least equal to, if not far more overt, than that from beyond the territory of the Stars & Stripes.

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