England, home to hundreds of years of history, is giving me the opportunity to attend some anniversary celebrations.
This year marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Horatio Nelson’s death. The Battle of Trafalgar was fought Oct. 21, 1805, in Cape Trafalgar off the southern coast of Spain. In a skirmish between English and Franco-Spanish fleets, English Admiral Nelson led 27 ships into battle where the enemy lost 22 ships, but the English lost none.
It was an amazing triumph for Britain, but Admiral Nelson was mortally wounded and subsequently died during the battle. His body was brought back to the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College where it sat for three days before being buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Nelson was one of England’s greatest war heroes and is still loved and celebrated today.
On Jan. 18, in a room full of mostly 80-year-old men and women, I raised a glass of port for Admiral Nelson in the iconic Painted Hall to celebrate his life, death and triumph over Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
Admittedly, a few people told me they were only there for the port, but most, including myself, were there to salute a hero.
Three-hundred sixty-three years ago, during the English civil war, King Charles I was beheaded, his son Charles II was exiled and the monarchy was replaced by the Commonwealth of England.
On Jan. 25, I attended a commemoration walk held by the English Civil War Society as they walked in the footsteps of Charles I. They started at St. James’s Palace and ended in the location of his execution in Whitehall. There were horses, cannons, muskets and wonderful costumes that captured 1640s England. There were over 500 people participating in this event.
Events like this are common within this great city; attending them gives me an entirely different appreciation for a history that I always have been fascinated with. I will never tire of hearing the seemingly endless stories this city has to offer.
Attending events like these are vital to a study abroad trip, regardless of the country. We participate in these programs to get out of Wisconsin, get out of the United States and open our minds to the world around us. Give yourself time to learn the histories and backgrounds of the place you choose to visit. Each country has a story to tell, and we should be more than willing to listen.