commemorate sites

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Once the deathly hallows were reunited, the resurrection stone became useless. It deteriorated and came to look like an ordinary pebble, never to be found again. However, when one comes across the section of the forbidden forest where Harry dropped it (near a small monument commemorating the site of Harry's sacrifice), one feels a sense of nostalgia coursing through them.

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December 24th 1914: Christmas Truce

On this day in 1914, troops across the Western Front during the First World War laid down their arms. Soldiers from all sides participated in the widespread, unofficial ceasefires for the Christmas period. Troops, mostly German and British, exchanged Christmas greetings, songs and even gifts. Both sides also held joint burials where they mourned both their dead. They met in ‘no man’s land’, an area which was usually deadly. The truce began on this day in 1914 when German troops near Ypres decorated their trenches and sang carols, which led to responses from the British troops. As the war progressed, and the violence increased, suspicion grew between the two sides and superiors were stricter about 'fraternisation with the enemy’ and so less truces were held. However, the truces of 1914 serve as a poignant example of humanity and peace in a horrific and violent situation.

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These structures were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš). They were designed by different sculptors (Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Jordan and Iskra Grabul, to name a few) and architects (Bogdan Bogdanović, Gradimir Medaković…), conveying powerful visual impact to show the confidence and strength of the Socialist Republic. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, especially young pioneers for their “patriotic education”. After the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned, and their symbolic meanings were forever lost.

Norway will cut through an island in tribute to massacre victims
How do you adequately craft a memorial for one of the worst days in a country’s modern history? That’s the question that was posed to architects and artists as part of a competition for a dual-site memorial commemorating the attacks in Norway on July 22nd, 2011. On that day, 77 people were killed, eight by an Oslo car bomb and 69 in a massacre at a youth event on the island of Utøya. After holding an open competition, Norway has decided to install a pair of memorials designed by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks.

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July 25th 1853: Joaquin Murrieta killed

On this day in 1853 the Mexican outlaw Joaquin Murrieta, sometimes known as ‘the Robin Hood of El Dorado’, was supposedly killed by California Rangers. Most sources agree that he moved to California in 1849 to seek his fortune after the Gold Rush. He and his family were subject to racial discrimination, and eventually were attacked by American miners; Murrieta was beaten, his wife raped and his brother murdered. After this he supposedly, having been rejected legal help, sought vengeance and formed a gang of outlaws. However this story appears only in a 1854 novelised version of his life, though he was undoubtedly discriminated against, and other accounts say he turned to crime in frustration at being prevented from finding work. His gang took part in cattle rustling, bank robberies and murder. Eventually the infamy of their gang led the Governor of California to form the State Rangers and place a $5,000 bounty on Murrieta’s head. On July 25th 1853, the Rangers attacked the outlaws’ camp by surprise and in the ensuing gunbattle eight bandits, supposedly including Murrieta himself, were killed. To claim the reward, the Rangers decapitated Murrieta and preserved his head, which later went on public display. To some, Joaquin Murrieta was just a violent bandit, but to others he is a Mexican hero who sought to correct the injustices faced by Mexicans in the United States. Murrieta has become a symbol of Mexican resistance to Anglo-American domination of California, and other lands ceded to the United States after their victory over Mexico in 1848. A group of his descendants continue to work to correct what they see as historical inaccuracies about his life that portray him as nothing more than a bandit. His status as a folk hero is further cemented by the debates over the veracity of stories of his death. Whilst many who knew him testified that the head the Rangers displayed was Murrieta’s, some of his relatives claimed it wasn’t, and thus theories abound that he actually survived and lived into old age.

7/7 London bombings: A decade on, UK falls silent to remember terrible day

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Europe

7/7 London bombings: A decade on, UK falls silent to remember terrible day

Britain is marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 7 July, the first major atrocity on British soil by Islamist extremists. The country will fall silent in memory of the 52 people killed when four bombs went off in London a decade ago. More than 700 people were injured in the attacks, which struck three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus during the morning rush hour.

Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly - the murder of 30 innocent Britons whilst holidaying in Tunisia is a brutal reminder of that fact.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Survivors, relatives of the dead and members of the emergency services will participate in commemorative events, visiting bombing sites in the morning. A minute of silence will be held during a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral attended by the Duke of York, the Prime Minister, London Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as survivors and first responders. The capital’s public transport network will come to a halt as bus drivers will bring vehicles to a stop if they can do so safely, and commuters and personnel will observe a minute of silence. Transport for London says, however, that Tube services will run as normal.

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December 14th 1503: Nostradamus born

On this day in 1503, Michel de Nostredame or ‘Nostradamus’ was born in Provence in the south of France. Little is known of his childhood, except that he was from a large family and began study at the University of Avignon when he was fifteen, though he left the university when it closed due to a plague outbreak. He was later expelled from another university while studying medicine when it was discovered he had been an apothecary. Nostradamus is best known for his work which came out of a fascination with the occult - his prophecies, of which he published thousands in almanacs. People look to these apparent prophecies and see them as predicting many major world events. However, the supposed prophecies are very tenuous, and are often considered just the result of misunderstanding and mistranslation. That being said, the work of this French seer remains interesting for its remarkable correlations to future events. One oft-cited example of Nostradamus’s prophecies is his supposed prediction of the Second World War:

“Beasts ferocious from hunger will swim across rivers:
Greater part of the army will be against Hister
The greater one will cause it to be dragged in an iron cage
When the Germany child will observe nothing.

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Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

On the 10th of August, 991, in the County of Essex (located in southeastern England) a large band of Viking marauders appeared obviously intent on doing no good.  Viking raids were nothing new to the English as all over the British Isles raiders sacked towns, villages, and monasteries.  The Vikings landed on a small tidal peninsula, intent on sneaking their way onto the beaches and further inland.  However, the English were prepared.  Meeting them at the beaches was the nobleman and warrior Byrhtnoth, with an army of local militia formed into a strong shield wall across the land bridge which connected the tidal peninsula to the beaches. The Vikings attempted to charge and bash their way through the army but with no luck.  Byrhtnoth and his men had the Vikings effectively bottled up on the beaches, preventing them from advancing and maneuvering.  By the time the tide rose again the land bridge would be gone and the Viking raiders would have no choice but to man their boats and sail away.

Seeing one last opportunity to make headway, the Viking leader Olaf Tyrggvason requested a parlay and asked Byrhtnoth if he could possibly move his army back a few hundred yards for the sake of fairness.  Incredibly, Byrhtnoth agreed out of a deep sense of honor.  Byrhtnoth moved his army back, giving up every tactical advantage and allowing the Vikings to land on the beach unhindered.  Once on dry ground the Vikings quickly outmaneuvered Byrhtnoth’s army and slaughtered it in a fierce assault.  Byrhtnoth himself was killed in the battle and his head was taken as a war trophy. 

On land the English were unable to match the martial skill and ferocity of the Vikings, who raided Essex unhindered.  Eventually King Aethelred paid off the Vikings with 10,000 Roman pounds of Silver.  Content with their loot, the Vikings sailed back to Norway.  The Battle of Maldon would forever be immortalized by and Old English poem by the same name.  Today a statue of Byrhtnoth at the battle site also commemorates the event.