Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I wish I'd Been There

Pick an event in history -- perhaps the day the Berlin Wall came down or the day Martin Luther made his famous "I have a Dream" speech. Take any significant, pivotal moment in history and just imagine you were there. That's the exercise several esteemed historians were asked to do in a new book titled "I Wish I'd Been There: Twenty Historians Bring to Life Dramatic Events That Changed America",edited by Byron Hollinshead

From what I read on Amazon, some of the events these historians picked were, Salem Witch Trials, the day Lincoln was shot, The Scopes "monkey" Trials, the Lewis and Clark expedition crossing the Continental Divide and so on.

What I want to ask you is this: If you could witness just one event in history, what would it be? And unlike the book, you don't need to restrict yourself to the US only. Feel free to pick any part of the world!

If I could time travel back into the past, I would like to have been there when Jawaharlal Nehru made his famous "Tyrst With Destiny" speech at the stroke of midnight on Aug 15, 1947 when India declared her independence from British rule.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance..... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.

I still get goosebumps anytime I read or hear these words!


28 comments:

David D Jerald said...

At a pass called thermopylae in northern greece in the summer of 480bc. Sixty year old King Leonidas
and his 300 spartans held back the persians army of 250 thousand men under King Xerxes for three days. King Leonidas and his men were all killed but not after killing over 30 thousand persions. Leonidas was my age it would of been an honor to stand by him. That is my place in history.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Dave!

Oh, yes, I should have guessed this would be your favorite historical event! You even wrote a poem about Thermopylae, didn't you? :)

beenzzz said...

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when Jinnah, Gandhi, and Nehru were planning "peaceful" ways of expelling the British.

Dawn said...

The day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech. I get tears in my eyes when ever I hear or read it....

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, beenzzz Oh, yes, save a place for me on that wall, too! Would have been entertaining, for sure! :)


Hi Dawn One of the most moving speeches ever...you're right, it really does bring a tear to the eye!

Hollydolly said...

Hi Anjali:
I would dearly love to have been present when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was presented with the Nobel Peace award on December 10/89.
This is part of his wonderful speech

"I am very happy to be here with you today to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace. I feel honored, humbled and deeply moved that you should give this important prize to a simple monk from Tibet I am no one special. But I believe the prize is a recognition of the true value of altruism, love, compassion and non-violence which I try to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the great sages of India and Tibet

I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of non-violent action for change Mahatma Gandhi whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated."


I fold my hands in prayer to this wonderful humble man.

Beloved dreamer said...

Lotus, there are so many places I wish I could have been. I think I would have wanted to walk "The Trail Of Tears" with my Mothers people, The Cherokee. Maybe carrying a little one in my arms. It was a cruel time for them and I would have wanted to stand with them in pride and sorrow.

love-bd

booklogged said...

Wow, Lotus this is a power-punch question. I would like to be witness any time people have been granted their freedom, when they have overthrown an oppressive rule, or when hope has been realized and freedom experienced. I would like to be standing in the crowd with you at that magic stroke of midnight in 1947 and with hollydolly when the Dahlia Lama received his award. I would like to share Beloved Dreams trail, stand in the crowd along with Dawn cheering for King's dream, or helping the Berlin wall crumble. How can I pick just one?

The more I think about this, I can't pick just one event. I guess the thing for me to do is keep my eyes and heart open for everyday victories, when people repent of sins, or behave with integrity, when they say or do what's hard but what will bring freedom, when someone breaks a bad habit, tells the truth . . . It's all about freedom, isn't it?

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, HollyDolly

This is a beautiful speech indeed, I am so glad you shared it with us. There are a couple of mentions of Tibetans in the book "The Inheritance of Loss", I wonder what you will make of it.

Hello, Beloved

Ohhh, true, "The Trail of Tears" is one of the saddest events in Native American history I think. It's hard not to tear up when you read about it. Thanks for reminding us,Beloved.


Hi, booklogged

What a beautiful person you are...the beauty of your spirit comes shining through in all your comments,and yes, it's all about everyday victories and freedom from all those chains that prevent us from being what we were truly meant to be.

Danielle said...

It would be hard to choose! I think since I am so into the Mary Shelley biography I am reading right now I would love to go back to the time when she first got her inspiration to write Frankenstein! I know this is not an earth shaking moment, but it sounds intriguing to me right now!

Lotus Reads said...

That's cool Danielle! I remember reading (this was a long time ago) that Lord Byron challenged her and Shelley to a writing competition when they were guests at a party of his...guess they were supposed to write something spooky and she came up with Frankenstein! That must have been one neat party, huh? :)

Aneeta said...

Hi Lotus,

I really love this post. I have read with much interest all of the comments and you know, each person has come up with fascinating. I am in tune with Booklogged - How can I pick just one?

thank you for sharing this piece with me. It is much appreciated.

ML said...

I would like to there when the Jews were saved from Hitler's torture. I think the realization that they were actually finally saved would have been such a powerful moment.

Catherine said...

Hi there - just discovered your blog and LOVE IT.

Where I would have liked to have been? The trial of Socrates.

Susan in Italy said...

Oh! I heard an interview of some of the authors in this book on National Public Radio. It was so engaging! I'd have a hard time thnking of a historical event I'd want to witness and not want to change while I was there.

Princess Jibi said...

I dont know much about history, but I would have liked to been there when the first man was placed on earth...that would have answered all my questions...

je m'amuse said...

What a wonderful question! Wouldn't it be great to have a time machine to be part of history? It would be hard to choose only one event.

Off the top of my head today, I think that I would have enjoyed witnessing the Wright brothers take off for the first time. Better yet, I would have enjoyed the thrill of piloting the Kittyhawk.

anocturne said...

i'd have to pitch in with Booklogged.

on a lighter note, i'm just boggled by the fact that by the time i start writing a comment on your page, there are 17 people already ahead of me, and by the time i finish, there are 117! [that GG is not far away, at this rate ;) ]

gautami tripathy said...

Too many wishes...

In the midst of Kurukshetra with Krishna...thats my wish

Lotus Reads said...

aneeta Thanks for directing me to your post and like I said there, I really need to pick up a copy of the Mahabharata and read these wonderful, inspirational stories again. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, like you, it gave me food for thought and fodder for the imagination.


ml Yes, that would have been such a wonderful, moving, a literal tugging-at-your-heartstrings moment for anyone to observe. Thanks for sharing this.

Catherine Welcome! Ooooh, the trial of Socrates, yes, seeing Socrates defend himself would have been inspiring indeed, but to see him drink the poison...my poor heart couldn't have taken it! I will pop over in a bit to visit your blog, thank you so much for stopping by!

Susan Yes, that's where I heard of this book, too...NPR! You must listen to it online, just like I do! :)

Princess Jibi Your first line sounds like the title of a song "Don't know much about History"! :) Yes, I, too would have liked to be present when man was first put on earth because it would forever silence the debate going on between the evolutionists and the creationists!

je m'amuse Goodness, yes, the first Wright Brothers flight would have been a momentous occasion, indeed! Speaking of people associated with aeronautics,have you read the book "I was Amelia Earheart" by Jane Mendelsohn? I haven't, but it looks fascinating!

anocturne I'm still laughing over your dream and your hyperbole! :))) 117 comments, wouldn't that be nice if it were true?

Gautami You picked a gem! I'm off to hunt for an easy version of the Mahabharata now!

Beloved dreamer said...

Hi Lotus
I've been looking for you. I just want to say thank you so much for stopping by and for very kind words about my poem. As you know I was worried about it. I am so glad you liked it. It was fun to write.

love-bd

Foodie's Hope said...

I do have a book of eye witness account of people who were at all those imp stages os discussions and events during India's Independence and such.
I would like to go back to the day of Aug 17th when they declared India free after so many years of others ruling us!
Wouldn't that be wonderful to be there at that moment not to think of what came after?

Princess Jibi said...

well my student is handling the situation well, she always looked wise for her age to me.. am so proud of her shes handling it..

MellowDrama said...

Hi there, I have bookmarked your blog - mostly because I love reading too:) Funny, I thought about your comment and you know I cannot zero in on one single event. Interesting concept though, would love to get my hands on the book.

Angela in Europe said...

I would love to see several, and I was going to put the death of Julius Caesar, but now I realize how horrible that sounds. Maybe right after the end of WW II because I think people had a lot of hope then. I know there was a lot of death and destruction, but everything I have read has said what a great era of hope it was (maybe it is just a romantic opinion).

Lotus Reads said...

Beloved Your latest is a truly wonderful poem - it's magical and I have enjoyed it so much!

Asha Your EyeWitness book sounds terrific and I agree with you, the declaration of the Independence of India continues to remain an event that I would dearly have loved to witness.

Princess Your student is a strong girl indeed, you taught her well.

mellowdramaa I'm thrilled you visited, thank you! I took a quick look at your blog and you can colour me interested! I'm going to return later and spend more time on it; I love the topics you cover although I will admit that I'm not terribly up-to-date with the Indian political scene, still, I'm happy to learn!

Angela You've got me interested in re-reading how it was that Julius Ceasar died - he was murdered wasn't he? By the Gauls? I don't remember the details though, so I am going to have to look it up again...no, it's not horrible, we're just morbidly curious! :)))

je m'amuse said...

Lotus,

I had not heard of Mendelsohn's book, but I will have to seek it out. I love historical fiction!

Rosemary Esehagu said...

Of all the times in history I would like to rewind to, the top one, I think, is witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I want to see the event that precipitated the blessed life that I now have.