Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Loretta reports:

Before we embarked on our month-long stay in London, I had read about the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park, and put it on my (very long) list of places to see. This is why, following our visit to the Museum of London one day, my husband and I walked a short distance to quiet little Postman’s Park, for a completely different kind of experience of history.

The monuments for fallen military men, for political and military leaders, are easily found elsewhere. This memorial was meant for ordinary people who gave their lives to save others.

It was the idea of G.F. Watts, a Victorian painter and sculptor, to memorialize everyday heroes. His plan was for over a hundred ceramic plaques with the heroes’ names and their brave acts, but the memorial opened in 1900 with only four, and today seems to have stopped at fifty-four, though it appears that names will continue to be added over time.

Even fifty-four, though, provide for a powerful experience. And it does grows heartbreaking, reading one brief, sad story after another. Still, there's something consoling, too, especially in times like ours, when there seems to be so much ill will in our world. The names on the tablets remind us that the best in human nature does triumph, and does so often. These tablets stand for countless unnamed everyday heroes who have acted unselfishly over the years. There are some, we can be sure, who are acting heroically at this very moment.

You can move through a 3D image here, view large images here,  and see examples of more detailed histories here at the Smithsonian site. Wikipedia provides a list of the tablets here.

All images: Photo copyright © 2017 Walter M. Henritze III

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Anne D said...

I am strangely reminded of the works of Edward Gorey.

Regencyresearcher said...

How apt, Anne. I know exactly what you mean which is surprising because I wouldn't say I knew Gorey that well.
We should have more such memorials . While parents risking all to save children isn't unknown, it is surprising how many strangers risked their lives to save others.
I do hope that the parents of that little girl never reproached her because her brother died.
The Two History Girls certainly have interesting blogs.

Reyna said...

Great post. These are stories worth remembering and honoring.

Neal Hurst said...

They revived this memorial in 2007 when Leigh Pitt, a Reprographic operator
Aged 30, saved a drowning boy from the canal at Thames, but sadly was unable to save himself, June 7, 2007

Interestingly enough the garden across from the memorial is the same place where John Wesley had his vision to create and establish Methodism

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