More Olympics

August 16, 2004

Something I forgot to point out last Olympics entry.

During the opening ceremonies, one of the most effective moments whas when a runner carrying the Olympic flag circled the track, breaking paper banners along the way. Each banner represented a set of games, and as he burst the tape the announcer told the city and year.

About a quarter of the way, the runner tripped and fell forward, landing prone and looking stunned for a moment. All gasped, including us at home, and then the announcer said "1916, World War One," and we understood what had happened as the runner stood and continued.

After a few more tapes, the runner paused, deliberately knelt on one knee, dipping the flag before him in salute. The announcer said "The Second World War" and there was a pause, and then he continued.

I was struck by the difference in the two representations. The first was a sudden stumble, a shocking collapse from what had been a triumphant progress. The second was an homage to the dead, an act of conscious remembrance.

We live in the world that we remember, and I was struck by the very different ways of remembering the first and second acts of the 20th century's three act tragedy.

Posted by Red Ted at August 16, 2004 10:04 AM | TrackBack