Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crossing Tahrir Square

Late one morning, I set out with two friends. My goal was the American University bookstore, which I have never seen but believe to be an Egyptological paradise.Their goal was the American University library.

"Only 20 minutes' walk," they said. So we schlepped across the 6 October Bridge and found our way down to ground level and along the riverside and somehow ended up outside the Egyptian Museum.

My companions wanted to go around the perimeter of the Square. I thought we might as well cut across. After all, there were just a few tents on the huge paved island in the middle of the Square. Really, nothing happening on this hot lunchtime in Ramadan.

A thought flitted across my mind. "Hallowed ground."
"It's just a shortcut," I reassured myself.

Luxor graffiti by ibischild
Luxor graffiti
These painted angels commemorate the people who died fighting for freedom during Egypt's January 25 Revolution last year.

And so we crossed the road and and began making our way across the heart of Tahrir Square. After one or two steps, or maybe half a dozen, I began to have the strangest feeling.

The only time I felt a similar feeling was driving along Route 30 in rural Pennsylavania. I'd just driven through the town center of Gettysburg and was driving across an enormous open green space.  And I began to have a more and more peculiar feeling. Could it be? And then I saw the monument and knew that it was. Gettysburg battlefield. What I felt was the presence of dead heroes.

In his famous address at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said,  "...we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we cannot hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it..."

Gettysburg Battlefield is haunted with the ghosts or angels of the brave folk who died there for the cause. Tahrir Square is haunted, too.


  1. When I first crossed the bridge over the world Trade Center ruins pit, I got the same feeling;; an ineffable but potent sadness.

    1. Must be overwhelming, Robert.
      Yes, "an ineffable but potent sadness" and something very heavy in your heart.

  2. I love visiting Gettysburg too, although I don't think in this life I'll get back there. Last time was when my daughter lived near there, and before that we lived on the east coast too. So I've been few times. Actually, we were there just before they finished their new museum, so we never got to see the new one. I suppose it's done by now. But there and Antietam is also quite a place to go, and in Maryland. I miss Egypt too Marion....and have been back only once since the Revolultion in April 2011.We drove however on a bus to the Museum, and I couldn't see much when he pointed out the window to the Square except for military vehicles. I'm so glad you got that Photo for us.

    1. Never been to Antietam. And Gettysburg just this once, driving through. I think I stopped at the monument and walked around a bit.
      Wow, April 2011 was so soon afterwards. I was there just about a month ago.
      The photo is taken in Luxor. A commemorative graffiti wall painting

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience Marion. Hopefully the sacrifices of everyone who participated in the revolution will not go unrewarded. I am encouraged so far with the new president, obviously though, only time will tell.

  4. Yes. So far so good it seems. I heard there was supposed to be a big anti-Morsi demonstration today, nationwide. Nothing on the news (including al Jazeera). It was a dud, I think. Extremists trying to get him out because he wants folks to work together. That's my personal take.