16 January 2016

Riding Into--And Out Of--History

During my first trip to France, I walked around the Place de la Concorde.  While encircling the Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation, I admired the elegance of the fountain, the obelisk and the buildings that flank the Rue Royale.

But then a sadness and a sense of terror and grief.  I recalled, at that moment, that the Place had witnessed one of the greatest scenes of savagery.  It was there, of course, that the French monarchy as well as a number of well-known people who were, or merely suspected of being, friends of the executed King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and prominent members of the aristocracy.  Although I am no fan of monarchy and aristocracy, I could not help but to feel that it must have been truly appalling to see the Place "covered in blood" and for people like Georges Danton, one of the chief forces in the overthrow of the monarchy, to lose his head to advocates of revolutionary terror who believed that he gave succor to enemies of the revolution.

I was thinking about that today, after cycling to this place:

Why?  Well, this bucolic scene was once part of the Bulow plantation.  My ride today took me there, as well as other places.

Some ruins of the plantation remain nearby.

They give little, if any, hint that one scene of this country's two greatest sins (along with the physical as well as mental and spiritual massacre of Native Americans) took place there.  I rode the trail in and ate my lunch; others drove in to fish, paddle canoes or simply spend the day in a green setting.

And, I admit, after spending about an hour there, I continued to ride to places where people tend not to think much about history.  I didn't.  I enjoyed the ride, though.

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