Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A national myth is not necessarily a myth in the sense that it is false, but may instead be a simply over-dramatized historical story in which certain details are omitted or changed in order to make it more inspiring.
There are of course also national myths which are quite obviously untrue, lack any sort of historical legitimacy, and exist only for the most shallow purposes of state-sponsored propaganda. This is common in totalitarian dictatorships in which the leader is given a mythical supernatural life history in order to make himself seem god-like and "above" mere mortals (see also cult of personality). National myths of this sort are usually quickly dispensed once the regime ends.
National myths of the USA
For example, the American Revolution is the source of many national myths, such as the legendary ride of Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party. These legends are suppossed to illustrate the virtues of bravery and vigilance, considered essential to the United States.
The cutting down of the cherry-tree by George Washington is another fine example of a national myth.
National myths of France
In France, the execution of King Louis is likewise a national myth which plays up the triumph of the common people over the out-of-touch aristocracy, personified by Queen Antoinette's statement (actually a misquote) of "Let them eat cake." when she was told the people had no bread.
National myths of the UK
England's Sir Francis Drake remains a national hero for his attacks on the Spanish Armada. Despite his death during a failed raid, Drake remains a legendary figure who circumnavigated the globe, destroyed dozens of Spanish warships, and (apocryphally) was the secret lover of Queen Elizabeth. His jaunty, daring attitude in the face of overwhelming opposition remains a symbol of pride for the English nation.
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