Thursday, 30 October 2008

Canterbury and Chartwell

Yesterday we went to Canterbury and Churchill's house at Chartwell. I loved both places. Initially we were a little mad that we were going because it was the same night as the James Bond premier, and we had already missed the High School Musical 3 premier, and there aren't really any more while we are here and we wanted to see some famous people while we could.. But as soon as I got off the bus in Canterbury, I loved it! It is still very much a medieval town in the town center. There are no cars driving through because the streets are so narrow and the buildings are built practically on top of each other. Walking up to the cathedral reminded me of my time as a pilgrim on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. It's not "just another cathedral," another 'cool old church' and a tourist site. This building has meant so much more to so many people and pilgrims for hundreds of years. Even though I don't personally believe in the 'saint' Thomas Beckett, the fact that thousands of people sacrificed their time, their physical conditions and abilities, to walk to see his grave because of their immense faith is humbling. He sacrificed his life for his church, his religion, for god. He had turned his life around from a 'semi-religious' man to become a worthy archbishop in the eyes of his church, and for that he was murdered. No wonder people flocked to his tomb to be healed; he was a man who remained constant and even stronger in something he believed in... something not often found in those dark times full of ever changing rulers and subsequent rules...

After wandering around the city itself for an hour or so, and frequenting the best chocolate shop ever (thorntons! ah!), we arrived at Chartwell. On Monday we watched a movie called A Gathering Storm about the years that were right before World War 2 and the appeasement of the English and Churchill's stand against it. (I would highly recommend it). We learned a lot about Churchill's personality as well as his brilliance as a man and his correct actions towards Germany when no one wanted to listen to him. Plus, we had the opportunity to see more of the personal/fatherly side to him. All in all, he seems like he was a great person as well as a brilliant leader. It became even more obvious how amazing he was walking through his house because he was truly a "Reniassance Man." He painted hundreds of paintings in his spare time, wrote books, was a brick layer, truly loved his family and his wife, loved gardening and feeding his fish... He had thousands of books in his house which he used for references for his speeches... He definitely took advantage of the time that he had to learn, become a better person, learn about the world, and do something about it. He had the ability to inspire not only a nation, but a world (As evidenced by all of the trophies/awards in the house from tons of countries expressing their gratitude towards him for his never ending stance on the war)..

So basically, he's my hero. Someone who stood up for what he believed in when the entire world literally was against him, someone who used his knowledge and his abilities to make a change in the world, someone who was an all around good person. Because of him millions of people are now free who might not be now if he wasn't there to take a stand against Germany when no one else would.

We must have victory. Victory at all cost. Thank you Winston Churchill.

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