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'English' heroes?


John Wilson
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What does it mean to be an 'English' hero? What is 'English' and who defines it? What traits and qualities within such heroic figures do we look for, or should we look for? Being born here? Raised here? Or simply loving this country and defending her physically, politically or socially?

Or, as some in the socio-political arena will have us believe, does it mean simply being white, regardless of one's cultural and national ancestry (a huge percentage of Britain has Irish ancestry!), so long as one's face 'fits'??

It doesn't matter to me personally, as I know that a person is a person with their individual talents and strengths, regardless of bloodline, birth and visual appearance. It seems to matter to some.

On another forum yonks ago, I unregrettably made some accurate yet possibly controversial comments in historical context only, regarding great English heroes who had been "only" half-English by blood, but whose courage, deeds and legend were/are made no less brilliant (rightly so) by the quirk of fate known as being born somewhere.

That post, the essence of which is echoed here, was hotly 'debated' by many, especially by those in the far right who leapt in and seemed to blindly worship some of those characters listed below. They twisted and turned around fact and evidence, hoping to cobble their warped square peg into the logical round hole. They also did not know I was mixed race (Anglo-Caribbean).

Just a few examples, then, are;

Winston Churchill - half-American, but in the mid-00's he was voted "the greatest Englishman ever";

King Harold II - half-Danish King of England in 1066, worshipped by many, usually harbouring an agenda;

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - half-French engineering legend...

Spike Milligan - revered worldwide by his peers as an English comic genius, yet he was Indian-born and of Irish descent.

Bob Hope - English-born, but everyone remembers him as a great American comic.

Paul McCartney - he achieved virtually everything in his field, is half-Irish.

David Niven - The quintessential Englishman? However, his mother was French (his father was Scottish). During his lifetime Niven also claimed to have been born in Scotland although his birth certificate says he was born in London.

Some people jingoistically revere the 'three lions' (of Aquitaine) and talk proudly of Richard the Lionheart, yet he was a Frenchman, didn't speak, nor did he want to speak, English.

He was only actually in England for 1/20th of his reign (1189-99) and reputedly would have sold London had he found a buyer.

Not to mention the Duke of Wellington (born in Ireland, as were so many other famous names in England alone, to Anglo-Irish nobility) who, touchy about his roots and when asked about his Irish ancestry, famously said "being born in a stable does not make one a horse".

Sir Edward Elgar hated the Jingoistic abuse of his own composition Land of Hope and Glory, played to many a teary-eyed flag-waver in the Albert Hall (named after the German consort!) who doesn't understand their own history!

General Eisenhower in WWII didn't allow his Germanic roots to cloud his American nationality, or his determination to crush Nazi germany? He refused to even shake the surrendering German officer's hand in 1945.

Even the very chivalric and English-thinking King Edward III, founder of the Order of the Garter in 1348, was by blood 75% French; 25% Spanish!

The Germanic Hanovers on the English/British throne (Royalty always having historically been a mixed bag of French, Danes, Spanish, Portugese, Norse, Scots, etc etc). Victoria, queen throughout the British Empire (the world's greatest) - her mother was German, her father was half-German and she married a German, Albert.

No wonder a certain extremist party conveniently ignore their inclusion of those of Irish descent?

Edited by John Wilson
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What does it mean to be an 'English' hero? What is 'English' and who defines it? What traits and qualities within such heroic figures do we look for, or should we look for? Being born here? Raised here? Or simply loving this country and defending her physically, politically or socially?

Heroes should be measured by what they do. Here's one of mine!

http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/01/02/1663-illiam-dhone/

Naughty of you to upset all those British Nazis with a series of good points well made :D

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Heroes should be measured by what they do. Here's one of mine!

http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/01/02/1663-illiam-dhone/

Naughty of you to upset all those British Nazis with a series of good points well made :D

:D Hi Andy. Yes, In my unmerciful vindictiveness, I dared to be totally unreasonable and offend the poor, sensitive feelings of the thugs in jackboots! :lol:

I hadn't heard of William Illiam Dhone Brown before, but anyone who had the resolution and conviction to bear up to either Cromwell or the Royalists, deserves a statue?

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Heroes should be measured by what they do. Here's one of mine!

http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/01/02/1663-illiam-dhone/

Naughty of you to upset all those British Nazis with a series of good points well made :D

:D Hi Andy. Yes, In my unmerciful vindictiveness, I dared to be totally unreasonable and offend the poor, sensitive feelings of the thugs in jackboots! :lol:

I hadn't heard of William Illiam Dhone Brown before, but anyone who had the resolution and conviction to bear up to either Cromwell or the Royalists, deserves a statue?

Oh but Illiam gets much better than that - every year a group of Manx separatists engage in a solemn gaelic ceremony around his place of execution - a martyr to the cause of liberation. In fact he was more of a pragmatist than great 'Manx hero' but history is always in the eye of the interpreter.

Interestingly too over there the KS2 and 3 history curriculum is all celts and vikings...... I think you should pay them a visit :D

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