Hello from London!
Melissa and I landed here from our red-eye flight yesterday, and took full advantage (should note that "full advantage" includes an afternoon nap in my book) of our day to properly acquaint ourselves.
I have already had two english breakfasts, and I must say that any country that considers tomatoes and mushrooms a morning necessity is OK in my book!
As per usual, Melissa's opinion has proven correct when it comes to this incredible city. Everywhere you turn is a symbol of power, much more so than in D.C. because London is a city with history. Real History.
Sure, D.C. went through some hard times in the early 19th century (I'm looking at you, Britain...no, seriously, I'm literally looking at Trafalgar Square right now), but London has been tested like few other places.
This was clear to Melissa and I as we visited the Churchill War Rooms yesterday, the underground bunker from which Churchill directed the war against Germany in the last century. The bunker was only a block or so from 10 Downing and fairly exposed. Though a concrete slab was placed over the bunker to protect it, there was great doubt as to whether it could withstand a direct hit from a German missile. The safety of this bunker was not something you wanted to have in question when it frequently held Britain's entire wartime leadership from Churchill on down.
The rooms were humble, The hallways narrow and the ceilings low. There was only one properly working toilet (and that was reserved for Churchill). Moreover, when the Cabinetmembers' secretaries would emerge from the bunker, they would find a city with more wounded people, and more greatly damaged infrastructure than when they had last seen it.
Everywhere in London there are reminders of that time. There are people walking the streets today who remember what it was like to hear the sirens go off, and know that their safety was no longer in their hands. London, Melissa reminded me, uniquely combines the old and the new; what was intended and what was built over the broken places.
We protect what we can. We rebuild where we must.
How did London rise from the ashes? It can only be through character. It can only be through sheer will and conviction.
For all of the resources and power in the world, they are mere expressions of those matters of the heart.
London is not great for its buildings or its history. London is great for her convictions. London is great because when it is broken, it simply makes way for restoration.
Let us be the same way.