Thursday, October 1, 2009


The last two weeks riding in France one gets a feeling of serenity and peace that I don't feel around here. We live in a desert with some weather extremes that makes Bend a great place to live, but we don't have that pastoral feeling that comes with living in an area with green fields, farms and forests everywhere. The farmhouses in France give off an illusion of hundreds of years of tranquil times.
I say illusion because I know from my Dad that his France (World War II) is not the same as the France I just spent a relaxing bike holiday in. He told me once that the first 90 days of his time in France he expected to be killed every minute. It was a brutal time. Not just for our soldiers though. Every town has a monument or a plaque that commemorates "the dead children of the village". Most of the statues have names from both great wars of the 20th Century. The other telling tale that the timeless peace is an illusion are all the towers and fortified castles everywhere. Today they are a remarkable reminder of the past but then they were used and destroyed in the many wars that have plagued Europe since the dawn of time.
I am fortunate to get to enjoy Europe in a time of peace. To ride the quiet small roads of France is something all cyclists should get to do sometime. It is also important to remember that it wasn't always this way. I have been what many would call a pacifist all my life. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and I have been against all of the wars since. People have asked me what I would have done during World War II. I cannot answer this question honestly as I was not there. I do know that our country is not at peace now and the lost lives that occur every day in our wars are tragic. Thinking of all the young men killed in this utopia for cyclist called France makes me realize again that our world is very fragile and every life is special. I don't know if there is a lesson to be learned from France and Europe, I don't know if there will ever be an end to war. I do know that while I have time I will spread the word of peace and encourage others to go discover the peaceful, serene qualities of the roads of France.

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