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Day 1 in London: Memorials in London

Hyde park is a massive green space in the center of London, most of my days in London were spent exploring the many sights within its grounds. Though many people use the park for an evening stroll or merely go to see the former home of the English monarchs; the park is also home to the many UK and imperial war memorials in London. There is a wide variety of memorials, some are grand spectacles with Victorian era sculptures and others are somber memorials to fallen soldiers and civilian lives. The thing that absolutely amazed me is how far we have progressed as a species when it comes to our view of war. The change is extremely clear in the different memorials at Hyde park. The largest monument is a triumphal arch from the Napoleonic wars that celebrated an imperial victory over the imposing French military leader. The memorial had no mention of the soldiers who died, nor the obscenity of war. The marble arch simply glorifies victory in war. On the other hand, the Great War memorial just across a courtyard from the marble arch has an entirely different tone. The Great War memorial is entirely about commemorating the fallen dead, almost as if they were the victims of a natural disaster. For the first time there is a realization of just how costly war really was, and the lack of total morality is evident in the design. The memorial’s primary visual is a statue of a fallen soldier with his overcoat flung over the upper body to cover the face. His feet dangle lifelessly with his hands still gripping at a rifle. The bomber memorial just a few minutes away is inscribed as a memorial to all the victims of air bombings in World War 2. The memorial both honors the many members of the Allied bomber crews who died on missions during the war. However, the memorial does not ignore the fact that these crews killed took many civilians lives in their own right. I think it really captures the pain felt by the crew members not only for what they went through, but for the work that they had to do as bombers. You can only see such an array of memorials spanning this many era in a handful of places in the world, and I am thankful to have been able to see one such place here in London.