February 15, 2006

Blitz: London's Longest Night

I just finished watching a program called Blitz on PBS, about a night of bombin on the city of London by Germany during WWII. There was actual footage of buildings burning, and people who lived through the night telling their stories.

Stories like this, of pain, and overcoming, always make me sad. But I also become very proud of what it means to be human. It is a terrible paradox that I both so deeply love and so deeply hate people as a whole. One for what they bring to life, and the other for what they take away from it.

As someone who has spent 6 years studying architecture and it's historical and social importance, I couldn't help but take note of one woman's quote about the night her city burned. She lamented not only the buildings burning, but what those buildings represented to her and everyone in London. She said, "I watched the history of my city burn and disappear. Who has the right to take a people's city away, their history?"

One of the hardest parts of my profession is getting people to recognize how much the built environment means to people. It's this environment that binds the history to the people, and makes it real. A museum, while educational, can only do so much to convey what has happened. To notice that, and say "my history is burning" was such a powerful statement to me.

1 comment:

Janelle Renee said...

Beautifully written and said. Bravo.