To the Memory of those who Fell

Memories are triggered by events.

Three years have passed since Oz took a vacation to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. And these beautiful memories lead on to the disturbing thought that death by gun violence is too easy.

Versailles Gardens, Bahamas
Versailles Gardens, Bahamas

Balmy weather in Oz that reminds one of the ocean, and a storm in the Caribbean named Erica, the daughter of my neighbor who went with us to the Bahamas, Vacations are a necessary getaway from the daily grind. And even when one can’t actually getaway, recalling a favorite vacation is, in a way, a vacation.

Off all the memories Oz recalls at Paradise Island, one stands out. It is the visit to the French Cloister, set among the Versailles Gardens of the One & Only Club. What is in a name, Oz wonders, these titles seem intimidating. And there Oz was, out for a run, dressed in shorts, shoes, shirt and baseball cap, along Paradise Island Drive. From the corner of my eye, I catch site of a respite tucked between the road and beach. A chance to stop and rest.

Even though it says, One & Only Club, it is open to the public.

“Far from the Madding Crowd” is the thought that comes to mind. It is Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel, published in 1884, and his first major literary success. A tale like all Hardy novels, one of unrequited love, betrayal, loneliness, and the beauty of the English landscape.

In the midst of the gardens, one comes across a solitary statue called Silence. But the meaning of what we see is not always self-evident.

The Cloisters, Atlantis, Bahamas
The Cloisters, Atlantis, Bahamas

The 14th century French Cloister that encloses the statute are the beautiful remains Augustinian monastery from Montrejau, France. It was bought in the 1920’s by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst who shipped them to the United States where they sat unassembled and forlorn in a warehouse for 40 years, until Huntington Hartford the A&P heir bought them from the Hearst estate. In 1968, Jean Castremanne, an artist and sculptor, put the Cloisters back together again over a period of 2 years.

A lone figure, Silence stands in the midst of the Cloister, open to the elements. Surely, she speaks volumes in her silence for every visitor has a thought that is on his or her mind, but is unexpressed. That is the meaning of art. It is the universal expression of thought, though that thought is as individual as the viewer.

But certainly the artist had some thought in mind.

The artist was Sir William Reid Dick (1879–1961), a Scottish sculptor who when the Great War began, enlisted at the age of 34 years and 4 months, served in the trenches until the end of the war, and then returned to express his feelings in many of his works including the Bushey War Memorial in Hertfordshire, England. The memorial features a standing figure similar to his sculpture in the Bahamas. This one with the inscription:

“TO THE/ HONOURED/ MEMORY OF/ MEN WHO WENT FORTH FROM THIS/ PLACE AND FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/ (names) ALSO THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE WAR OF 1939-1945/ (names)/ TRANQUIL YOU LIE, YOUR KNIGHTLY VIRTUE PROVED/ YOUR MEMORY HALLOWED IN THE LAND YOU LOVED”

 

As I said, memories are triggered by events.

One day after television reporter Alison Parker, 24, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, were gunned down on live television near Roanoke, Virginia, Parker’s father says, it is an event that tears at his soul, and Parker’s boyfriend said merely remembering their lives is not enough.

 

It is not right to remain silent when confronted by a wrong
It is not right to remain silent when confronted by a wrong

It is not enough to simply remember. This senseless tragedy is the result of a madding
crowd screaming for the Second Amendment and gun rights. But the Second Amendment does not speak to guns for any disgruntled individual who wants to distroy the lives of daughters and sons, of loved ones, and the innocent.

We have gone way beyond what was intended by the Framers of the Constitution, who were freedom loving but also preservers of life and liberty.

Stop the madness.

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