Of Death and Courage and the Beauty of Life

While the Eiffel Tower celebrated its 125th birthday today, I decided instead to go to the place where some of the most famous people in the world are buried, the Cemetery of Père Lachaise.  If you’ve read about some of my favorite paintings, they happen to be about women at tombs or dying.  Not sure what that says about me?  I can’t say that I’m not afraid of dying, I certainly hope that doesn’t come to me for a long time, but some of my favorite places or things involve it.  Perhaps it’s the celebration of life and the story that came before death that really captivates me.  I think if you come to Père Lachaise, you will see such a variety of gravestones, tombs and mausoleams that I really think they are celebrating life and the courage of those lives that came before.  Some of these tombs don’t just state the name and date of death, but they often have sayings of courage and survival and the human struggle.  Perhaps the most visited grave is of an American, the poet rocker, James Douglas Morrison.  One of my favorites is of Chopin.  You will also find Molière, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Gericault – a French painter as well as others.  There’s a particular section that is dedicated to those lost in Nazi camps.  There are dedications to the women that lost their lives in the camps as well as to specific camps where thousands died.  When I saw the one for Auschwitz-Birkenau, I got a little teary eyed reading the inscription.  Next time you go to a cemetery, don’t be sad, celebrate the life and stories of those there and carry the respect for life with you when you leave. 

“Qu’à jamais ceci montre comme l’Homme dut tomber et comment le courage et le dévouement lui conservent son nom d’Homme.”
Translation: “Let this forever show how Mankind had to fall and how courage and devotion maintain the name of Mankind”


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