Visiting Emotionally Charged Places
Throughout my travels, as I’m sure goes for many of you as well, I’ve visited many emotionally charged places like; the Lincoln Memorial, Beachy Head, the Archaeological Area of Pompeii and the Anne Frank House. Places that had made me cry, places that have left me speechless and places that have inspired me. Here is a sampling of a few emotionally charged places that I’ve visited…
“I’m not sure what I’ll do, but – well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
The end of our Washington’s National Mall walking tour we wrapped up at the grand and imposing Lincoln Memorial. There I stood, in the dark, at the foot of the stairs leading up the beautifully lit Greek-like temple that was dedicated in 1922 to the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. I was thrilled to see it at night, appearing like a dream.
Walking up the stairs thinking of all the famous speeches that had been had here like Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’, the energy surrounding this site was undoubtedly emotionally charged. Standing at the foot of the awe-inspiring 19 foot tall Abraham Lincoln I turned to each side and deliberately read both the inscriptions on each flanking wall, the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address. Here were also intricate murals of freedom, liberty, justice, unity and charity and I turned to face the wise Lincoln and breathed it all in. I never imagined the over-whelming feeling of gratitude – for those wise, dedicated and fearless individuals in our past that have helped to change life as we know it, raw courage – from those who looked opposition in the face and stood by their beliefs and values, as well as the pulsating energy that rose up through its walls of all those who believe that to make a change it takes but one individual to start a movement.
Beachy Head – near Eastbourne, England
On the southern coast of England there is a peculiar spot. Beachy Head’s brilliantly bright chalk white cliffs are enchantingly tall with the highest chalk sea cliff in Britian at 531′ (162m) above sea level. Sadly the height has also made it one of the most popular suicide spots in the world.
Littered about the quiet green trails with the backdrop of rolling hills and the beauty of the coast, are plaques on the ground and on benches naming those who have lost their lives there. The beauty and the sadness were in stark contrast as I stood at the edge of the cliff looking down at the quaint white and blood red lighthouse at the bottom of the cliff, thinking of all those who had stood there before me and with their hopelessness and tears gave up life. I felt a strange calmness and sympathy for those who cut their lives short, realizing life is already too short to not take advantage of every moment.
Archaeological Area of Pompeii – Pompeii, Italy
The city of Pompeii was there 3000 years ago and the people were quite advanced, with sliding shop doors, drainage, thermal baths and even steam heating. But that all came to a screeching halt in 79 A.D. when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.
Walking through the now city of ruin we came in close contact with two of the many victims encased in ash. It was frightening to see them curled up, almost in the fetal position, exactly how they died. I looked briefly and had to turn away as I felt like I was violating them. I didn’t linger long – it felt like I was an interloper at a strangers funeral. The energy of this once bustling city was replaced with a new energy of intrigue, wonder and a strange foreboding. When I neared the end of my visit there, looking from the viewpoint over at the impressive Mt. Vesuvius, I thought of all the people that had passed in its wake and how sometimes life isn’t how you thought it would be or ended too soon. But for the life we have control over, life is what you make it!
No photographs allowed. At first you enter the building next to the annex, this takes you threw a museum-like reconstruction of what it would have looked like when the Frank family went into hiding. You’re literally walking through her footsteps.
Throughout the house are quotes from Anne Frank’s journal as well as show cased memorabilia and clips from documentaries – an interview with Miep Gies, Otto Frank and Anne’s best friend. It’s all so chillingly real, goose bumps plagued me the whole time. The stairs up to each floor are so steep, small, narrow and awkward. The house was stuffy – I could only imagine how hot and unbearably humid the summers had felt up there. In one of the last upstairs rooms there in the middle of the room in a lit showcase box lay Anne Frank’s infamous red journal. Amazing, rich with thoughts, passion, strife and hope. As one of my favourite read for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to and loved her story. As I walked down the last staircase there is the room showcasing the publication of her book, from the first to all the translations that followed. But as I hit the ground floor I was reading a quote on the wall and it hit me. The writer wrote of the reality that this, Anne’s story, is only one story in a sea of sadness that we could never really fathom. And finally I let go and cried, I cried for Anne and her family, I cried for those who helped them, I cried for those who had died, for those who just survived – with scares on the outside as well as inside and I cried for the still suffering in the world and I cried for the gratitude I had for my freedom, and I thought how true it is that everybody’s got a story.