My wife and I just returned from a hectic, but delightful two-week visit to London, which was the first visit to that city for both of us in over forty years, a fact which qualified us as virtual first time guests. Given that status, the usual round of sights, sounds, and tastes was mandatory, and we didn’t miss anything, prowling every nook and cranny of historical and cultural London and vicinity. My impressions were many, substantially positive, because London for me is in many ways about my heritage, a kind of “roots” pilgrimage, if you will. Foremost among these impressions was, one, that this is truly a world city. Many spots want to claim such a designation, including any number of American “wannabes”, but one has only to spend an hour or two on a Saturday morning in Trafalgar Square, eavesdrop on any number of multi-lingual conversations while wandering the aisles of the British Museum or National Gallery, or spend a Sunday afternoon in the marketplace of Covent Garden to get a sense of the extent to which this city is a unique convergence of cultures, ideas, markets, and history. The second major impression was that every block of this place simply reeks of tradition and heritage, with national heroes memorialized at every turn and the millennial commitment to “king, country, and faith” seeping through every memorial and every palace and cathedral wall. This was the most compelling impact on me, combined with the fact that, in the U. S., we mainly think in terms of two centuries of history, at most four; in Britain, it’s at least ten, and that perspective alone was awe-inspiring.Through all of these reflections, however, in light of the West’s current multicultural sensitivities, I couldn’t help wondering: who will sustain the generational commitment to this heritage?, who still venerates these cathedral walls and crypts and the columns and statues dedicated to heroes of major battles and victories for king, country, and faith?, and who are the heroes of the future who will defend and protect the ideas and the faith that spawned and have sustained this heritage? We can only be hopeful.
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