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What does ‘homeland’ mean today? What it means to me is not what it means to you. What this landscape means to me is not the same as what it means to anyone else.

The Oxford English dictionary definition of ‘homeland’ apparently is either the land which is one’s home or where one’s home is, or more broadly even one’s native land.

Is it where one lives or where one’s heart is?

Apparently the name used for the US Department of Homeland Security, which was created in response to the September 11 attacks, was not entirely popular as it was said that it was not a term generally used by Americans. The ‘Homeland’ TV series is currently enthralling us in the UK. What is the use of that title meant to signify? The Israeli original on which it was based was not called that. Does ‘Homeland’ mean the same to the whole of the USA? Is it meant to or is it just ironic?

I am reminded also of the German film Heimat from 1984 by Edgar Reitz, a 42 hour examination of a family and their homeland, shown on TV here in the late 80′s or so, which provoked much discussion. The land itself was much more evident in this than in the ‘Homeland’ TV series, where it is more conceptual than actual.

Heimat (film)

Heimat (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The photograph of mine at the top of the post is of ‘the land of my fathers’ (or mothers in my case), Wales. Is it my homeland? Incidentally the name Wales comes from the Cymraeg word Gwalia, meaning in English ‘Homeland’.

Having just heard on the radio that Woody Guthrie was born 100 years ago this year, and hearing Billy Bragg (who has written about English patriotism) talking about the lyrics by Guthrie discovered by his daughter that Bragg first wrote tunes for in 1992 (recorded as Mermaid Avenue), I will finish with a reminder of Guthrie’s best known song:

This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York Island

From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters

This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway

I saw above me an endless skyway

I saw below me a golden valley

This land was made for you and me

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