Mercia MacDermott writes:
There is no contradiction between internationalism and justifiable pride in one's country's unique contribution to the wonderful mosaic of mankind's heritage and achievements, providing that such pride coexists with an appreciation of, and respect for, every other country's equally unique contribution.
Since mention has already been made of Georgi Dimitrov in this context, it is worth recalling that, at the Reichstag fire trial, he had no hesitation in responding to the prosecution's racist remarks about Bulgarians by proudly reminding them of Bulgaria's historic role as the cradle of Slavonic vernacular written culture, following the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet in the ninth century. This at a time when the German emperor was so contemptuous of his own language that he spoke it only to his horse!
Indeed, the creation of that alphabet is still annually celebrated in Bulgaria on May 24, as the country's oldest and, I would say, best loved national holiday. Processions of schoolchildren and numerous other groups connected with culture and education, take to the streets of every town, carrying banners reading: "We too have given something to the world." How refreshing to find a people whose chief source of national pride is neither past conquests nor military victories, but the gift of literacy.
I was present when, after becoming the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin was the guest of honour at the May 24 celebrations in Sofia. The Bulgarians were proud that it was their alphabet, adopted by the Russians a century after its creation that circled the Earth on the instrument panel of Gagarin's spacecraft. As Dimitrov once pointed out, in matters of culture there are no great nations and small nations. All have something special to cherish and to share.