Yet even with St. Paul's being the place of Diana's wedding, the piece of history that touched me the most happened forty years earlier.
As we approached St. Paul's, our London guide stopped and had us admire the dome. It turns out the dome was a beacon of hope for Londoners during World War II.
For 57 consecutive days London was bombed. The parents of our guide (children at the time) were sent to the country, to safety.
I was inspired by the spirit of the Londoners who helped each other get through this awful time. Over 20,000 died during the raids and 1.5 million homes were damaged or destroyed. Because of their tenacity and the courage of the British armed services, Hitler's plan was curbed. He stopped the bombing in May of 1941 and turned his attention to the Russian front.
|American Memorial Chapel |
and the Roll of Honour
I was also moved by the American Memorial Chapel in the apse of the cathedral. It honors American servicemen and women who died in World War II. It was paid for by donations from British people. There's a Roll of Honour that contains the names of more than 28,000 Americans who gave their lives in the defense of the United Kingdom in WWII. Inside its glass case are a pair of gloves. Each day a page is carefully turned so that every name is seen by the public. It takes over 14 months to go through the book--and then they start over from page one. I found this very touching, especially since my father served in the South Pacific in the Air Force for 2.5 years during the war... He's 91 now, and the sacrifice of that generation humbles me.
The Duke of Wellington is buried in St. Paul's, as is Admiral Nelson, and the architect of the church (and many London churches), Sir Christopher Wren. So it's a place of internment, of weddings, of memorials, and honor. As a newspaper said a few days after the horrible December 29 bombing: St. Paul's "symbolises the steadiness of London’s stand against the enemy: the firmness of Right against Wrong.”
Long may it stand.//Nancy