≡ Menu

Remembering

myfrenchwindow 487
Photo taken in Centerville, Ohio.

I have hung my flag out in remembrance of 9/11.  Today, I am a little emotional in regard to my country.  Maybe, I am even a little protective.

It makes it harder for me to be strong when a man asks me for a second time why I don’t speak French with my children.  I respond that English is my language and my children are American just as I have once before.  I explain for a second time that my parents do not speak French.  “Oh, your parents don’t speak French!”, he says with surprise.  I tell him, “No, my parents are American and they only speak English.”

“Do you speak another language than French?”  I ask him.  “No.”, he answers.  And, we both smile.  I think he saw my point even if it didn’t change his mind about my not speaking French.

As I walked into my building I had to smirk as I saw the American flag waving proudly from my bedroom window.  It is not possible that this man did not see it flapping in the wind of the Jura mountains of Switzerland right over his head as he walked down our street!  I am sure he didn’t like it one little bit.

Any other day it would have gotten my feathers ruffled that he could be so ignorant.

Today.

When I am homesick already and it is 9/11, a day that brings back memories of hurt and loss, I found myself hurrying inside to shut the door of my apartment so that no one could see the tears streaming down my face.  As I leaned up against the door, I knew it wasn’t because of this man that I was crying.  It wasn’t because I don’t like living in Switzerland or that I don’t feel that I belong here.  I love living here and I do belong here.

It was because of the emotion that 9/11 brings every year.  I am surprised that this day still touches me deeply.  Yet, I remember the children that died, the fathers and mothers, the sons and daughters, the husbands and wives and all the others.  I imagine a child older now who has grown without their parent there beside them.  A parent that was taken away from them.  And, the tears fall in remembrance.

Today.

I am deeply reminded that I am American through and through even if I have spent almost four years living in Europe.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • sissi September 11, 2008, 3:17 pm

    I am sorry you feel homesick.
    It must be hard, especially when that man doesn’t mind his own business and tells you, yet, another time how you should communicate with your children.

    Are you allowed to hang the american flag by itself? I thought in Switz. you were supposed to hang the Swiss flag in order to hang a foreigner flag.

  • Hexe September 11, 2008, 3:46 pm

    I too find that tears come to my eyes on this day. I was fortunate to not lose anyone this day, but such a great loss of lives and such an impact on our country that still has resulted in a hugh divide.

    Ignore the old man – every “village” has one! Even here in the US, there is always someone who feels the need to tell you how wrong you are about something.

  • Pumpkin September 11, 2008, 4:11 pm

    Sissi,

    I have never heard of that law and couldn’t find anything online. I have seen other flags up without the Swiss flag mostly during the Euro. No one has ever said anything about it. We hang the US and French flags by themselves on National holidays for the US and France.

    Hexe,

    It is true that all villages have those type of people. It really wasn’t him but the day. I have thought a lot about how foreigners must feel living in the States. It must not always be easy for them as well.

  • expatraveler September 11, 2008, 11:41 pm

    In many ways, I think it’s about remembering the past and how things used to be and that does make me very sad too but for many other different reasons… The world is definitely different.

  • Sean September 12, 2008, 8:53 am

    The flag thing is not a law as far as I know but more of an acknowledgement that while you are living here and are mindful of your own country, do not forget what Switzerland is giving you too. When I first came to Switzerland I hated seeing the foreign flags – I thought that it was wrong to be so patriotic when you have choice, and that choice is to stay or go, so I believed you should embrace your new land whoeheartedly….. I have since changed my mind and now am aware that my own country will never leave me and I will never be 100% “Swiss”, but in all likelikhood my children will hang only the Swiss flag. And thats ok too.

    You cant change who you are or whats inside you even if you do only change your physical location. No one should question patriotism or affiliation, or expect that you will change it. Its engrained in your genes and fundamental to personality… hang it up with pride…

  • Pumpkin September 14, 2008, 9:19 am

    Expatraveler,

    I agree the world is different since that day and Bush hasn’t helped.

    Sean,

    I think your comment hit my feelings right on the nose. When I first became an expat I tried hard to fit in but now I realize that I cannot change who I am and that is ok. I will make my own place here in Switzerland just like everyone does including the Swiss. That’s life not matter where you live. :)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin