Cambridge, Carthage, and Pearl Harbor: The Immediacy of Sacred Places

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, this entry from several years ago came back to mind.

Ross All Over the Map

USS Arizona Memorial (Photograph: Ross Peters)

I visited Pearl Harbor last week, and I have been thinking about it since. In fact I have been thinking about it in combination with two other sacred places I have visited over the last several years—the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England and the American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. It felt important to me to see these places. Even more, it felt like a responsibility.

In England and in Tunisia, I went with my daughter and wife on July Fourth, 2005 and 2010 respectively.

At each place there is a kind of immediacy that can easily escape me when I reflect on the sacrifices the generation that fought and won the Second World War made. In Cambridge, this feeling hit me when I first entered the small chapel at the cemetery where on the ceiling is a mosaic that represents planes flying across a…

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