Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm not the only one!

Whenever I am asked to sing the Belgian national anthem (the "Brabançonne"), I have to admit that I don't know it. I can hum the tune, but that's it. My lack of education in this area is invariably met with disbelief, derision, even disgust. People think that I am unpatriotic at best, but more likely some anarchist freak at the edge of society. Americans seem to deem it heretic not to know one's national anthem. Not surprising given the efforts to make defacing the American flag a crime not covered by First-Amendment-Rights protection or belting out the Star Spangled Banner before every little league game.

It should come as no surprise that I was delighted when I saw the following post at the International Belgians group on LinkedIn:

Yesterday a group of 40 Belgians (flemish, francophones and germanophones) who for the most part didn't know each other got together at the local version of a Belgian "fritkot" in Montreal for the 21st of July. We had a blast, None of us knew the Brabançonne, so a lovely Canadian man sang it for us. So I 'd have to agree with Patrick, no linguistic problems around a good glass of beer, and some fries.

None of 40, I am not a freak after all! They had to recruit a Canadian (probably a professor in the Belgian Studies Department at Université de Montréal) to sing it for them. My reply to the post was that I had last sung the Brabançonne in 1972 or 3, but then in German, French and English. I don't even recall hearing it sung since then. No wonder I don't remember ...

Dave, a good friend, pointed out that there was at least one American was thinking along the same lines. Maybe he DID know the words to the US national anthem because he had been "cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on." Howard Zinn's essay, distributed in 2006 by the Progressive Media Project and republished by summarizes it more eloquently than I ever could. Please read


  1. Christian,

    Too funny! I like this post. I also like your running blog. Tom and I both have become very active runners this year and have joined the MN Orienteering Club and would like to delve into the orienteering thing deeper.

    I'm sure we'll be talking as we seem to have a lot in common. :)

    Best, Carrie

  2. Thanks! Glad you joined MNOC! I didn't see you guys there in may when I did set the course at Afton SP this spring. Orienteering is for runners who like to use their brains! I have been into it for almost 30 years.

  3. It's almost as if Belgium reluctantly follows behind all the rest of the Soverign nations that like to celebrate their nationhood. National anthem? What's the point? A unified common language? Pointless!
    But the rising price of fries? Mother, where do we keep the family blunderbus and ammo!

  4. I can now leave a comment. Although I already said my comment... Oh well. I still love this and I love Howard Zinn and I love those who can see our American culture objectively.