My 2012 Trip to Europe: Re-discovering History
I went to Europe earlier this month. I'd never been there before and now I’m surprised about why that had never happened. So much history is around every bend, much of it affecting the U.S. and my personal life.
Kelly and I walked the streets of Paris for four days, seeing museums and artwork and places where heroes walked before us. At the Pere Lachaise cemetery, we visited the grave sites of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas buried together, Jim Morrison, Colette, and so many more as well as the poignant memorials dedicated to the thousands of French Jews deported to Nazi death camps.
We climbed to the top of the Arch de Triomph at night and to the very high second platform of the Eiffel tower, 38 stories above ground. We ate amazing food, especially pastries and cheeses. In the Montmartre, we couldn't resist walked into the sex shops and the Moulin Rouge.
We boarded the Avalon river cruise ship Creativity and for Olivia eight day cruise during which we visited many small towns along the Seine. We visited Van Gogh’s last home and burial site in Auvers sur Oise, Giverny where Monet painted the gardens he created, and Rouen where Monet painted the Cathedral de Notre-Dame. Also in Rouen we went to the St. Joan of Arc church where the 19 year old Joan was memorialized as the true hero she was, and we went into the La Couronne restaurant where Meryl Street as Julia ate her first lunch in France with her husband Paul in the film Julie and Julia.
At the Normandy Beaches, we were touched by the intense U.S. history along with the British, impressed by the ingenuity it took to create the apparatus to accommodate the landings...and deeply pained by the ages of the very young men. We visited the American cemetery where we were given roses to lay on grave sites. I found some young Jewish soldiers and placed stones on their markers along with the roses.
We flew to Munich after the cruise, thoroughly enjoying the openness and aliveness of the city. We spend much of the next day at Dachau, that place of tremendous horror and pain and death...even still, even after being sanitized, is still a reminder of what hate and intolerance will do, how it consumes the hater and destroys humanity. As a small child growing up in a Jewish family, I learned that if we forget, it will surely happen again. Sometimes I feel like our leaders have forgotten, that the growing visible hate in this country will lead to the kind of intolerance that kills masses of people.
Where is the love Jesus asks of one another? I know I need to keep an open mind and an open heart, but with the power of my pen and keyboard, I will continue to write, continue to seek freedom for our LGBT sisters and brothers, continue to create awareness as long as I’m able. I hope you'll commit to doing the same, lest we forget. This once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe helps me to remember....