On our way out of New England, we spent a day exploring Boston. We've been to Boston together twice. The first time we went to Boston was on our Baseball Vacation Marathon in 2000 (11 Ball Parks, 9 hot dog stands, and 7 amusement parks in 13 days - Whew!) On that trip, we had little time to do anything in Boston other than watch the Red Soxs play. That was also during the Big Dig and Boston traffic was a nightmare for these two Texans. We drove over 5,000 miles that trip and camped out in our 15 passenger van.
Our second trip to Boston in 2004 was almost as rushed. We had been to a video conference in NYC to prepare for the Walk Through video series and decided to detour through Boston on our way home. Remembering the traffic from a few years before, we decided to stay in a hotel outside of town and rode the train, then the subway in to town. That trip we walked the Freedom Trail and explored the city a little. Oh, and we also visited Fenway Park.
Being baseball fans, a third trip to Boston would not be complete without third a trip to Fenway Park. It was on our metro route, so it was really no big deal. We didn't go to a game, but we did walk around the outside of the stadium. Here is a shot of the outside of the Green Monster. It is much more recognizable from the inside!
We stayed in a campground about 35 miles outside of town and rather than take the train then the subway, we drove the scooter to the nearest subway station (about an hour) and took the green line past Fenway and in to Boston Commons (another 20-30 minutes). There really wasn't much time to plan this trip, so we weren't sure what we would do there.
To be honest, the city of Boston kinda terrifies us as do most big cities. We had heard debates about Boston drivers in the days preceding our trip. Our Big Dig driving experience in 2000 left us with a definite opinion of the driving ability of folks who lived here. Still, we try to remain open to thoughts from those who actually live and work here on a daily basis. This parking bumper protector seemed to sum up the Boston driving (and parking) experience! Austin drivers are bad, but we don't see anything like this bumper guard there! (Come to think of it, we now see an increasing number of Boston Red Sox caps in Austin, hmm?)
We knew we wanted to walk the Freedom Trail again, so we did that first. We began at the Commons and walked the stations we had visited before. We downloaded an audio tour and listened to a brief presentation at each stop to add to our educational experience. If you are interested in exploring the Freedom Trail on your own, there are many resources on the web. We didn't take too many pictures - the day was more about walking, talking, and reflecting about different aspects of Freedom (and the seemingly and alarmingly current restrictions on Freedom).
We stepped a bit off the trail and entered a print shop with a printing press demonstration. We saw a press just like one used during the time the Declaration of Independence was printed by local print shops. The printer gave us an excellent description of the printing process and the dangers printers faced when printing documents that opposed English rule. Hearing this and seeing sights along the Freedom Trail provoked several discussions questioning how we would have responded in those times and how we should respond in these times. Would we have risked what we knew (and possibly our lives) for this liberty so many spoke of, or would we desire for things to safely remain as they were. Interesting points to ponder but difficult questions to answer.
Next door in the candy shop, a young girl showed us how chocolate would have been made in colonial times. Colonial sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) enjoyed their chocolate in liquid form like you would a cup of tea. There were no candy bars at that time. We were able to sample of this chocolate drink. It was quite good, but I still want my kisses!
The courtyard going up to the Old North Church was a nice walk with many plaques and memorials along the walls.
Even the bathrooms along the way were educational. Here is a sample of the curriculum on the wall of the ladies Room at Faneuil Hall.
We also spent a little time walking though downtown Boston and toured the Boston Harbor. We stopped and watched a few planes take off from Logan Airport. Sorry, no pictures.
In all, the pedometer said we walked over 10 miles on our Boston adventure, but we think it was more like 5 or 6. By the time we got home, we felt like we walked 20!
By far, our favorite part of the day was the New England Holocaust Memorial. It is is right next to the trail, but not really mentioned in much of the trail literature. It has nothing to do with the unique American fight for independence, but everything to do with why America was founded and what we have represented for almost 250 years: Freedom. We wondered aloud how much longer we American will realize the importance of our unique gift of freedom. The hearts and minds of our nation are changing so quickly!
Here is a quick overview of the memorial. It is best experienced in person.
The memorial consists of a walkway with six glass columns to represent six of the Nazi death camps during World War II. All along the walk are quotes inscribed the pavement and the glass walls.
Each column has six digit numbers etched into the glass representing the Jewish souls who were exterminated during this time. Over six million Jews had their lives stolen from them during the last years of the war. Each single glass panel has 17,280 unique numbers etched on to it. Each tower has 22 of these panels. There were six towers in the memorial. There seemed to us to be countless numbers represented here. In reality, there are a little over 2 million numbers on the glass - only one third of the over 6 million souls who lost their lives here because someone thought them unworthy. It is a little overwhelming to see this, knowing they were lost from this earth through the actions resulting from unspeakable distorted and evil thinking. Here you can see the etched numbers in the top of the picture and the shadow reflected on the framework below.
The glass towers were designed to represent chimneys of the death camps where their bodies were burned.
Each tower had a representational fire burning below and you had to walk through the smoke as you passed through the monument.
It is very humbling to consider that people just like you and me did this evil to other human beings just like you and me. It is easy to say, "I would never be a part of something like this!" or "I could not condone this torture and murder!" But are any of us really that far from it? How many of these German officers were raised by loving parents who taught their children to love their neighbor and value life, honesty, and integrity? How many lived in neighborhoods where friends gathered together to talk and share a meal? How many cried and laughed with their wives and children over the struggles and triumphs of daily life?
Our depraved nature is evident despite what we would like think about ourselves. We've all had times we've sacrificed our sense of right and wrong when others pressure us. We all have times when we feel superior to other's because of what we may do or how we may think. We've all allowed good to be thought of as wrong and wrong to become thought of as good. How many steps away from depraved indifference do we now live? Many of us are far too close to that line without even realizing it. May God have mercy on us all as we struggle to understand His love and truth in contrast to what we think is right. Despite popular current thoughts to the contrary, God does reveal His Ways and Thoughts about good and evil and He does provide a way for us to discern that good from evil. We must take care to seek His Ways and Thoughts and not distort them by stirring our own into the mix.
Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.