Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Visit To Parliament Square And Westminster Abbey

--written from London

On a day when the director of the British intelligence agency MI-5, warned there are 1,600 terrorist suspects in Britain planning everything up to attacks on this country with weapons of mass destruction, I paid an inspirational visit to Parliament Square and Westminister Abbey.

In Westminister Abbey are buried many of the glorious figures, Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, Poets, of British history. It is especially moving to see the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I and the memorial to Winston Churchill.

So many times in British history, this nation seems to have been on brink of the abyss, only to come back, often at the last moment, with a victory and new vistas of greatness. "England," it is said, "loses every battle but the last."

So, I reflected, I no more believe a pack of Muslim extremists are going to bring this country down, any more than they will bring America down.

Despite the threat, London has seemed this past 10 days to be a secure city, happy with itself, vibrant. The only thing lacking sometimes is British food, although the ethnic restairants make up for that.

My tour group sponsored by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival went on the London Eye the other night, the huge ferris wheel that affords such splendid views of the Houses of Parliament and other parts of central London. We loved the view, and this should be a feature of any trip to London.

The historic bastion of democracy, long may it live.

And today, Armistice Day, I'm wearing a flower, like millions of Britons, remembering the men and women who have died through the centuries preserving and extending freedom, combating tyrannies, throughout the world. No one should forget them.

When I returned to my hotel, on television for an hour, was a moving dedication of a memorial in Hyde Park to all the New Zealanders who gave their lives, in alliance with Britain in two world wars. Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Blair, the prime minister of New Zealand and others spoke, there was Maori dancing and the symbolism seemed to be that the British Empire, in a real sense, still exists.

I don't want to be maudlin, but the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland commands admiration. Now only, if they can offer visitors ice tea, it will be perfect.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll really be interested in your response to the editorial, "A Chandler's advice to the L.A. Times."

I find the whole situation disgusting. It's like the politics of the country, just you think it can't get any worse, it does.

Glad you are enjoying London, I currently live in Paris and I wish the Parisians would learn to queue up to get on a bus like the British.

11/13/2006 4:35 AM  

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