“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

This quote is one that I remember from my history lessons at school. Now I have loved history ever since I was about nine years old, so I excelled in my history lessons. I think my teachers would agree with that. They would probably also say that I would have done better if I had been more confident and willing to put myself forward. I may know the answers, but they didn’t know that I knew the answers! An issue that unfortunately did follow me to University, but I like to think I’m improving.

Anyway, this is not about my school days. This is about today’s youth. Unfortunately someone in the local area has defaced a War Memorial. I can only guess why – boredom, a dare, they thought it was funny, they didn’t realise, or maybe they just don’t care. The worse thing about this for me, is that it’s not that uncommon any more. They are reports every year of people urinating on War Memorials, breaking them down, tagging them. And every year, people are in uproar about it.

Clearly though, our outcries over this are not making a difference. Which begs the question, what more can be done? It worries me when you speak to young teenagers and they don’t know World War One from World War Two. They don’t know who Hitler was or Churchill (a personal favourite). To me those figures are people that everyone knows, or at least knows the name of them.

If it was up to me, I would sit these young teenagers down and not let them leave until they had memorised all these facts. Until they know the causes of World War One and Two. Until they could tell me the difference between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. I wouldn’t let them leave until they finally understand the sacrifices people made so that we could live in a world with democracy.

I feel sorry for the teenagers that do know because they are now going to be tarnished with the same brush. I’ve been there. Not too long ago, people all assumed that my friends and I were like other teenagers our age.  And can you blame them? A small selection of people are making it harder for everyone.

This leads to my final point. How are these youths going to be found and punished? Personally I think schools and colleges should get involved in helping with this. As should parents. It must be difficult to think that you child could be responsible, but a responsible parents would want their child to be honest and admit what they have done.

This may come across as a rant and I don’t mean it to, but it upsets me to think that they are people in this area that could do this. You read about it in other places, but you never expect it on your own doorstep. I had relatives fight in both World Wars and I am eternally grateful for them fighting so essentially, we could have our freedom. Other people should be grateful too.

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Fact of the day: 31st March

On this day in 1889 The Eiffel Tower was officially opened.

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

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The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 276 m above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is generally only accessible by lift.

Gay Marriage in the UK.

This weekend in the UK it became legal for same sex couples to get married.

First of all, congratulations to all those couples that have gotten married. I’m sure it was something you have all been waiting for and I hope it was everything you wanted it to be.

I was thinking about this last night and I never realised just how much I took the right to get married for granted. Young girls always imagine their wedding day at some point and it had never really occurred to me that other couldn’t really experience the same excitement and planning and countdown that I’ll get to experience.  Awful really, isn’t it?

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Obviously there is still a long way to go. But this is a step in the right direction. Clearly we are moving forward as a society and granting rights to be people, which they should already have.

I hope as we go forward from this, more and more will be done to make sure that there is true equality to everybody and not just some people.

Celebrities and normal people alike have been celebrating this great achievement this weekend and here’s hoping that this is not the last celebration we have.

Fact of the day: 30th March

On this day in 1856 the Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the Crimean War.

The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on 30 March 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all warships, and prohibiting fortifications and the presence of armaments on its shores. The treaty marked a severe setback to Russian influence in the region.

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The Treaty of Paris was signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris with Russia on one side of the negotiating table and France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia Piedmont on the other. The Treaty of Paris came about to resolve the Crimean War which had begun on October 23, 1853 when the Sultan formally declared war on Russia after the Tsar moved troops into the Danubian Principalities.

The Treaty of Paris would have far reaching implications on the future of the Ottoman Empire, as would the ending of the war itself. At the time, it was seen as an achievement of the Tanzimat foreign policy. The Treaty saw the European Powers pledge to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, and restored the respective territories of Russian and the Turks to their prewar boundaries, neutralizing the Black Sea for open international trade.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

I started training for my new job this week. One of the things we were told to think about was how not to pre-judge someone. We were told to watch Susan Boyle’s first audition for Britain’s Got Talent.

Now I’ve never watched Britain’s Got Talent but I do remember the hype around this audition and the attention it generated for her.

Having watched the audition, I was amazed at just how obvious it was that everyone was judging her. The judges were rolling their eyes, obviously expecting to see Susan Boyle fall flat on her face. It was obvious the audience was against her as well. Everyone was. That was, until she opened her mouth.

What I love most about this audition is about halfway through the clip, Susan Boyle’s eyes meets with the judges and she smiles and, they smile back. It’s like they’ve connected together. It’s a great example of why you should never judge person before you know them.

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The shocked expressions of the judges, the standing ovation from the audience and she was still shocked that she went through! It’s beautiful really. And like one of the judges said, the best thing about it was that everyone was against her and she proved them wrong.

I think as a society we find it easier to judge on first sight etc rather than spending time getting to know someone. One reason being that we all feel that our time is too valuable to spend talking to someone, so it’s easier to make assumptions and then carry on with our lives.

We’re also much more insular now then say fifty years ago. Fifty years ago there was a much stronger sense of community in towns and cities which we don’t really get any more.  People don’t really make the effort with their neighbours and we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves as much as we can now.

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So the moral of the story is, we find it easy to judge others but in reality that person could amaze you. It shows that you never really know what a person is capable off until you give them a chance.

I think it’s something we should all remember the next time we have a choice between making an effort or pre-judging someone.

 

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Fact of the day: 29th March

On this day in 1951 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.

Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 25, 1915 – June 19, 1953) were American citizens executed for conspiracy to commit espionage, relating to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

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In 1995, the U.S. government released a series of decoded Soviet cables, codenamed VENONA, which confirmed that Julius acted as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets, but which were ambiguous about Ethel’s involvement. The other atomic spies who were caught by the FBI offered confessions and were not executed, including Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, who supplied documents to Julius from Los Alamos and served 10 years of his 15-year sentence; Harry Gold, who identified Greenglass and served 15 years in Federal prison as the courier for Greenglass; and a German scientist, Klaus Fuchs served nine years and four months.

Morton Sobell, who was tried with the Rosenbergs, served 17 years and 9 months of a 30-year sentence. In 2008, Sobell admitted he was a spy and confirmed Julius Rosenberg was “in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.”

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Fact of the day: 28th March

On this day in 1871 the Paris Commune was formally established in Paris.

The Paris Commune was a revolutionary and socialistic government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March until 28 May 1871. The killing of two French army generals by soldiers of the Commune’s National Guard and the refusal of the Commune to accept the authority of the French government led to its harsh suppression by the regular French Army in “La Semaine sanglante” (“The Bloody Week”) beginning on 21 May 1871. Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune had significant influence on the ideas of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

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The Paris Commune inspired other uprisings named or called Communes: in Moscow (December 1905); Budapest (March–July 1919); Canton (December 1927), and, most famously, Saint Petersburg (1917). The Commune was regarded with admiration and awe by later Communist and leftist leaders, including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao.

Lenin wrote: “We are only dwarves perched on the shoulders of those giants.” He celebrated by dancing in the snow in Moscow on the day that the Bolshevik government was more than two months old, surpassing the Commune. The ministers and officials of the Bolshevik government were given the title “Commissar” borrowed directly from the “Commissaires” of the Commune. Lenin’s tomb in Moscow was (and still is)) decorated with red banners from the Commune, brought to Moscow for his funeral by French communists.

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