Thursday, March 16, 2006

JFK and Martyrs'

I read today that the people of Dallas, Texas really do not like the JFK memorial and want to replace it with something less like a giant egg box (or Lego as some have it). Apparently the reason it was done that way is becuase Mr Kennedy's widow liked the style of the architect. Most other people think Kennedy deserved something better, according to an architect called Witold Rybczynski. It is said that nobody much visits the memorial, preferring instead to see the grassy knoll where the assassination took place, and where the only acknowledgement is a "barely visible" cross on the road. This immediately put me in mind of the Martyrs' Memorial in Oxford, a beautiful local landmark in the centre of the city, looking like the sunken spire of a cathedral ("meet you at the Martyrs' ", say the locals). This memorial is, of course, to bishops Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer, who were burnt at the stake for their Protestant beliefs in the time of Bloody Mary. No doubt St Giles was a busy Victorian thoroughfare when the gothic landmark was built, as it is a short walk from the actual site of the execution. At that sad place there is a plain iron cross bolted into the road. In some ways, the cross is more poignant, and memorable, to me than the "real" memorial, despite its beauty. Maybe the people coming to remember Kennedy feel the same way.