Thursday, April 2, 2009

History in the making

Today is another national holiday. This one is to honor those who served and died in a little conflict the rest of the world called the Falkland Crisis, but which is known here as the Guerra de las Malvinas (War of the Malvinas).

School children in Argentina are taught the Malvinas belong to their country; my hubby was an adult before he realized the population spoke English and flew the British flag on the Malvinas. His younger brother, with dual citizenship, almost fought in the Conflict (he was 19 when the war broke out).

It was truly a haunting experience listening to my hubby and his brothers sing patriotic Argentine songs during one of our family reunions. I imagine their feelings are a lot like ours when we hear The Star Spangled Banner or America The Beautiful. I remember goosebumps on my arms during a memorial event at the American Embassy in Uganda shortly after 9/11, when we stood to sing our national anthem. Doesn't matter if it's a Little League ballgame or a swearing in ceremony for new American citizens, there's something about our flag and the songs that convey how we feel about being part of one of the world's greatest democracies.

Today is also the day they buried Raúl Alfonsín, the first democratically elected president of Argentina after the Guerra de las Malvinas and fall of the military dictatorship. President from 1983 - 1989, he was booted out of office due primarily to hyper-inflation and a populace unhappy with how slow the wheels of justice were turning for those implicated in the "Dirty War" of the 1970s. But today was a day for remembering the positive things he accomplished and Argentines by the thousands descended on Buenos Aires. Probably good that it was already a national holiday because I think the funeral would have brought everything to a stand still anyway. I'm learning about Argentine history and, like our own, it's complicated and not as black and white as the textbooks try to make it. These holidays and events like the funeral help bring home what's important to this people, to this culture. The learning curve is immense when you move to another country, and we ex-pats can use all the help we can get! I'm an American and will always be a proud citizen of the U.S. but I can appreciate what my new country has to offer, and learning the history is the least I can do.


rita said...

Excellent, Kim! Great review and new notes of interest.
I experienced the brain washing. I have since understood better but cannot deny strong patriotic feelings, maybe not to do with Malvinas, but in general, that cause me to be able to sing the patriotic songs with gusto.
Recently in a conversation with the younger brother, I learned of his perspective at the time: he did not want to leave the country of his birth and would have accepted the call to arms, but had to recognize that God had provided a way out.

Lhoyt said...

I remember listening to the radio during that short conflict. The only way to get the truth concerning the war was to listen to Voice of America, for both BBC and Radio Nacional gave a slanted view. But I also remember that I not only sympathized with the argentine cause, but agreed with it. I did, and still do, feel that it was a dumb thing to do (go to war), and a terrible time to do it (at a time when it was obvious that the reason was to reinforce the male egos of the military leaders). However, I believe that the saying "gobernar es poblar" (roughly translated 'populate in order to govern') stands true and only for that reason I concede the British their little pet claim on the Malvinas.