I was reading one of the Sueddeutsche books at lunch, and one of the characters, a Dutchman as it happens, casually drops into the conversation, “Poland has not yet perished.” It’s the opening line of the Polish national anthem, and one of those catchphrases of the culture, a hoary cliche, but one that despite everything still touches hearts.
I could think of one other for a European nation, “Happy is he who can say I am a Turk.” As much as the Polish phrase was a reaction to Partition in the 18th century, the Turkish phrase was a deliberate program from Ataturk, part of the whole effort to transfer loyalty from the Ottoman nstate to the Turkish.
The Germans might once have had one, but haven’t since 1945.
And of course there’s “God bless America.” Once a fervent and perhaps fragile hope, it has been misused by GWB&Co, turned into something of a command. Sets my teeth on edge.
Anyway, I was wondering how many of these national touchstones I’ve been completely ignorant about, lo these many years. What others are out there?