This statue in Pere Lachaise doesn’t cost a cent to see. It’s haunting memory brings sights and smells of the Holocaust to your senses without charge. To make visits to the shrines of dead jews the equivalent of paying to ride at an amusement park devalues the debt humanity owes the dead.
With all the money in the world spent on campaigns to elect people or to promote international sports or to get people to fritter their money away at gambling casinos, one might think that some things are too deserving of veneration to be commercialized. Not if you are Trumpian.
Charging to see the artifacts of death from Aushwitz and making a profit offends me. No charge to see the memorial in Miami. No charge in Berlin. No charge in Berlin. And, when we went to Stutthoff, a work camp in Poland, we went in free. October, we are going to Terezin. I will let you know.
I don’t do fund raising, but give to the cause of preserving the memories of the dead for all, especially those without the funds. Some of these financially challenged might be dissuaded from turning to killing to earn a living.
Before we convince ourselves of our rightness or righteousness, let’s not forget the world around us, most of which is water, above which the wind blows. Other ways exist to supply power than fossil fuels. And, you don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
All Americans owe a debt to these men, mostly young, who changed the course of history. They gave their life for me. Families of Jews made the decision to bury them with their brothers. 149 Carrera marble Mogen Davids stand, marking their graves. No rocks to mark my visit. I left my tears. Some leave roses.
Vets on our tour and others laid wreaths for all. Most who came on the Beaches are now dead. No way to mourn them enough or apologize for our inhumanity. When we ask why we do this, we know the answer.
A monument was erected to the fallen on Omaha Beach. Soldiers did better on nearby Utah Beach. I try not to believe the dead were sacrifices, though things like that happen in wars. Sad but true. And to think these guys were volunteers….
So, you are asking, why travel. One reason is to see the antiquities. Go back to where organized governments started, albeit ones that didn’t treat all people, especially women equally. They had slaves, too, some of whom had talent and built this place. Seeing it in art and history books just ain’t the same, despite the crowds, the climb and the weather. I felt the togas.
Like all civilized places, they had arts and a theatre. Plays, music and circus. No slayings. Maria Callas even sang there, as did Sting.
After a while, the cities look the same. Canons from the war. Scarf seller. We went to Troy. Saw the ruins. Helen’s face launched a thousand ships. Brad Pitt fought there. No more water, Hector. For the tourists, a wooden horse. A fort was unearthed, along with the remnants of 9 cities built on top of each other. The men fought. The women, cooked and cleaned and worked in the bordello. They had water to drink and bathe in. Then came the malaria and they were wiped out.
So, we travelled for 30 hours, arriving at the boat in Istanbul totally wasted. My head ached. My eyes burned. I walked dead, not knowing if I was alive or a person from another planet.
We cancelled the two day layover due to terrorist threats. No need to be a hero. Most on the cruise did likewise. I don’t regret it, but I really wanted to return to the Blue Mosque, Topkapi and the Cisterns. Security is evident and overwhelming. Maybe we didn’t have anything to worry about.
But, shooting an image, making a photograph, always brings me back to life. The suite we live in for the next 50 days has a terrace. I set up the tripod, put the camera in place and shot as the sun went down. Two large martinis also helped.