Statues and Semaphores
It’s said that there were 17,000 statues in Paris that were removed and melted down by the Nazis. I was reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway where his main character is driving by the statue of Claude Chappe, the inventor of the semaphore. Semaphores were used for rapid communication across distances, and proved highly valuable. My curiosity led me to research the statue, which brought me to the realization that old Claude’s statue was one of the many casualties of World War II.
Statues are all around us scattered about in parks and town squares and cemeteries. They’re installed to honor some person from the past who accomplished something notable or won the birth lottery. Most of these statues are just background noise to the masses of people who scurry on with their lives. Common people rarely get statues, but do get gravestones or monuments marking their final resting place.
I’m not interested in having a gravestone, and I haven’t earned a statue. Perhaps I’ll warrant one in the future, perhaps not. My way of being remember is to be a positive influence in the world and let that positive ripple mitigate the impact of those who would bend the world to their will.
I take a lot of pictures of statues, I visit graveyards, I try to walk in the footsteps of history and dance with ghosts. I’m almost as saddened to learn about the 17,000 statues that were melted down as I was to read about the casualties of a battle from the same time. I’m not saying the worth of a human life is no more than that of a bronze statue, just that I mourn the loss of both.