Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--The National Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I was thrilled to find a postcard seller in France who had this card with a vintage shot of the National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, and it joined my collection the same week that I read about the couple who were married in front of the cathedral ruins.

Wedding takes place in front of destroyed National Cathedral in Haiti
(and full text of story)

(NECN/APTV) - A couple who had planned to wed before a devastating earthquake destroyed their home and the church they would have married in, exchanged vows on Sunday {Feb. 28, 2010} in a yard in front of a crumbled cathedral in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. It was a simple ceremony, there was no laughs, and there was no celebration after. This was not, after all, how it was supposed to have happened. 
Taxi driver Emmanuel Beaugele, 33, and his fiancee Marie Neslene, 30, were due to marry on January 16, 2010.  But four days earlier, on January 12, a powerful earthquake shook Haiti, killing an estimated 230-thousand people and leaving more than a million (m)  homeless.
Emmanuel and Marie, who had been together for six years, lost their home and their jobs. The Roman Catholic cathedral that would have held their wedding ceremony crumbled under the force of the tremor. . .On Sunday, one month and a half after their originally planned wedding date, the couple finally got married in a less than lavish affair in front of the ruins of the collapsed cathedral.

A man cleans the shoes of a girl before attending a wedding in front of the destroyed national cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. Photo: Esteban Felix / AP2010

There is a marvelous post, titled The Inspirational Power of Hope at Robert Edsell's blog at The Monuments Men website, in which he writes:

Haiti’s great church, the National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, was severely damaged by the earthquake. Built between 1884 and 1914, the Cathédrale de Port-au-Prince is a Roman Catholic Church of hugely symbolic importance to Haitians, more than 90% of whom are Catholic. It is, along with the presidential palace, the most identifiable structure in the nation.  (To put this into perspective, imagine the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. being destroyed, or St. Patrick’s in New York City.)  
While the roof collapsed, much of the structure’s walls remain standing, in fact eerily similar to the scenes of destruction to the Rouen and Berlin churches. Those churches were rebuilt:  the National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince should be also.

The Monuments Men website is a fascinating find for me and I will return to read more. Who were they?  
The “Monuments Men” were a group of 345 or so men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians, and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war they tracked, located, and ultimately returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent. . .

The mission of the The Monuments Men Foundation:
To preserve the legacy of the unprecedented and heroic work of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA”) section, known as “Monuments Men,” during World War II, by raising public awareness of the importance of protecting and safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict, while incorporating these expressions of man's greatest creative achievements into our daily lives.

Isn't it remarkable that the expertise and passion of this group might be of help to both Haiti and Chile as those countries move to preserve what remains and to rebuild with a commitment to not only safety but also with cultural preservation as an important consideration for the future?

Ultimately, however, the truth remains......

Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun. 
~ Frank Lloyd Wright



the watercats said...

This was such a moveing post, the spirit og humanity is such a wonder thing when focused properly. I love the photo of the fella cleaning the girls shoes.. amidst chaos... a very human gesture :-)

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I love so much all these old post cards!

Anonymous said...

Lydia - this is a great, beautiful, touching posting. I had not heard of the monument men - but I have now. Thank you for telling about them.

Thank you so much.

Amy said...

Lydia, You've done it again! Now I will need to spend much time exploring your links. I did watch the wedding video - those people are strong. The postcard you posted - fantastic!

I also wanted to let you know that I "borrowed" your Cities at Night link for part of my "Geography" post for ABC Wednesday. That post stayed with me for days and my husband, who rarely even looks at my blog, found it fascinating.

This is what I love about the world of blogging. Learning, sharing, and being part of a community of like minded folks. So thank you!

Lydia said...

the watercats~ Thanks much. I thought the photo was great, too. I'm pretty sure that is the groom in the video.

Phivos~ I am so glad that you do!

kww~ Thank you for your appreciation of the post and for joining me in admiration of The Monuments Men.

Amy~ This is what I love about the world of blogging. Learning, sharing, and being part of a community of like minded folks. So thank you!
Thank YOU, Amy, for your comments and for mentioning me in that great ABC Wednesday post at your blog. :)

Melinda said...

It's wonderful that people are putting energy into reconstructing and rebuilding not only the "necessary" essentials but also the cultural essentials that are so central to any society's self-concept and history. And even better, Lydia, that you subtly remind us that the people of Haiti continue to be devastated by this earthquake. The story is off the front page--but it hasn't gone away. Haiti still needs our attention, love, and support.

Thanks for this important post today--and loved the old postcards (as usual). :)


Lydia said...

Melinda~ Thank you for the kind comments.
I loved this old postcard when I saw it online. There were others, but not as old as this one, and I thought it was special.
I hope they rebuild this cathedral. Funny, prior to the earthquake I knew nothing about it and now I care about what happens to it. :)

francessa said...

Wonderful old postcard! The wedding reminds me of Friedrich Schiller's: "And new life blossoms in the ruins".

Thanks for pointing out the Monuments Men Foundation, sounds very interesting!

Looking to the Stars said...

This is a great post! I haven't heard of the monument of men,I am so glad that there are people like this around. And people like you, who share these wonderful things with us!

Hattie said...

Lydia: What a wonderful post. I really thought it was special.

earthtoholly said...

What a prize this postcard is, Lydia. And good luck to that couple who tied the knot among the ruins...I like that idea. An elementary school friend posted on FB a few photos from his Haitian honeymoon in the late 70s. Very sad that most all of what was on the landscape may now be gone...

Darlene said...

A poignant story. It is inspiring to know that life continues to go on in the face of adversity.

Lydia said...

francessa~ Great to hear from you and to have yet another person (Schiller) to research!
I'm going crazy with changing my blog design. Hope I can get this done!

Looking to the Stars~ You are so kind to thank me that way. But I love learning along with you!

Hattie~ I'm honored by your comment. :)

earthtoholly~ So glad you like the postcard as much as I do. It's sad that your friend's honeymoon spots are undoubtedly wiped out, so thank god they got photos to keep the memories vivid.

Darlene~ Yes, that is how their marriage affected me also. And I was quite taken by their dressing up so beautifully in the midst of all that destruction.
Real dignity.



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