Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

One of the places we visited in our recent wee trip to Paris was the Hotel des Invalides. This amazing building was constructed by Louis XIV in the 1670s as a residential village for up to 4000 invalides (disabled veterans) who were begging in the streets of Paris. The courtyard is now used for military parades. Behind the four-storey classical facade is the Dome Church (Eglise du Dome). Les Invalides was built between 1677 and 1735: the dome took 27 years to build.

The Eglise du Dome now houses the Tomb of Napoleon. His remains are encased in 5 coffins and a sarcophagus of red porphyry. The church also contains the tomb of Ferdinand Foch (see above), and the rather beautiful tomb of Hubert Lyautey. I had never heard of the latter, but I like his tomb, and I'd quite like mine to be similar (Wosog please note).

My point is this: can you think of a single modern politician, or military leader, in the world today that would be so revered by their public that the latter would support a memorial of this magnitude? I can't. Maybe this is just a cynical age, and we all look too readily for less-than-altruistic motivation behind the actions of our leaders? Maybe it will take a truly global conflict (God forbid) to bring forward men of true stature? I don't know, but I do know for certain that there would be a huge public outcry in the UK if it was proposed that any of our current so-called leaders, or indeed former prime ministers, be immortalised in this way.

Where have all the heroes gone?