Miami In Miami: Gianmarco Agostinone

Biography

Photo By Jessica Horsham CC By 4.0

Gianmarco Agostinone is currently a senior finishing his undergraduate portion of his combined bachelors and masters degree in computer science. Over the course of his time in college, he has traveled on two study abroads with professor Bailly, France and Italy, and wants to culminate his travel experience by finally learning about the area he has lived in his whole life, Miami. After college, he hopes to continue his newfound lifestyle of traveling and photography and eventually make his way throughout the rest of Europe.

Metro As Text

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Miami: A Home That Doesn’t Feel Like Home By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019

Is it strange to say I know the streets of Rome and Paris better than I know those of Miami? I can direct you to the colosseum like it’s the back of my hand but if you ask me how to get to South Beach, I’m lost without Google Maps. I know Florence’s hidden gems. Little known places to watch the sunset over the city’s skyline. I know where to go to get the best macchiato or the world’s best gelato. But I can’t tell you where you can find a decent cup of coffee in a five-mile radius of FIU that’s not a Starbucks. I call Miami home, but I know nothing of her.

This really hit me on the day of the metro. Countless times I have driven to the places that the metro connected, and never did I once realize it was even there. A big reason why I’ve always justified my lack of knowledge and traveling throughout Miami is the inconvenience it is to get anywhere. With its crazy drivers and the sheer distance away everything is, you must make a whole day out of going anywhere and I just never have that time to commit. It was not like in Paris, where its extensive metro system can take you anywhere you desired and quickly too, that having lunch by the Eiffel Tower was not something you had to plan your day around. But finding out that Miami has a system like that too was an eye-opener. Now it is nowhere near as extensive as many modern areas but it’s a start and already has allowed me to visit more places and see more things than I ever have here before and that’s just the beginning. For now, I plan on using the metro whenever I can and hopefully, one day the system will expand enough that you won’t need a car to go anywhere in Miami.

Vizcaya As Text

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Cultural Appropriation By Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Vizcaya on September 25, 2019

An issue that many people have with Vizcaya, along with many other places and people, is that they took items and ideas from other cultures, which is considered cultural appropriation. They received backlash due to Deering buying these famous artworks and uprooting them from their homes to make them a part of his and using foreign architectural designs that had no origin in Miami. Some believe that by doing this he is making an artificial landscape that has meaningless foundations and contents. But I do not agree. We are living in an ever-increasing globalized world where ideas and cultures spread faster than ever, and trends can travel from one place to the another nearly overnight. Integrating these other cultures beliefs and ideas should not be considered wrong and is even vital for the progression of our society.

Anybody should be able to appreciate aspects of other cultures and not be judged for it. Even with Deering, he bought artwork from all over with only the intention of making his house look pretty, but that doesn’t make it wrong. He still was able to spread this beauty to an area that lacked it and did no harm in doing so. Spreading and adopting aspects of other cultures, whether it be the way you dress, act, talk, or things you own should never be seen as wrong as long as you don’t do it to mock those cultures and rather do it because you sincerely respect them.

Over Under Paris – Gianmarco Agostinone

Metro Line 1

Introduction

In this project I go over some of the major stops on Paris Metro Line 1. Each stop is broken down into a different theme where I explore how the stop relates to it by reviewing its history and reflecting on my experiences there and how it relates to both me and France.

La Defénse

The Business Districts (Modern Architecture)

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Facts

  • La Défense is Europe’s largest purposely built business district
  • The Grande Arche is the central and defining building of the district and is the third arch on the Historical Axis of Paris, the first two being the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
  • The district is named after the statue La Defense de Paris which celebrates the soldiers who had defended Paris in the France-Prussian War
  • The district consists of 1,500 businesses, 180,000 employees, and 20,000 residents.

Reflection

In contrast with the majority of Paris, La Défense resembles a modern Utopia. Surrounded by glass skyscrapers, modern art, and hundreds of people walking and scootering to work. It was a complete shock witnessing this as you only associate Paris with its traditional architecture and historical streets so when walking up the steps of the metro and seeing a city more advanced than those back home was unbelievable. Although filled with modern architecture and technology, the district kept much of the traditional Parisian values on what is necessary for a city to have, pedestrian friendly and an abundance of parks. The layout was left me awestruck the most. As the city resembled a jungle with buildings growing on top of one another in an almost haphazardly manner. Constantly, I found myself going down or up stairs to realize I was previously on the roof of a building and there was a new built above that. Then there were parks around every corner, both small and large, both above and below buildings, both packed with people and secluded from the world. They truly perfected the modern city.

Charles de Gualle-Étoile

Arc de Triomphe (War)

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Facts

  • Built to honor those who died fighting in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars
  • Beneath it lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WW1 and the Eternal Flame
  • Commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his victories but was never finished under him due to his eventual defeat
  • Only completed during the reign of King Louis-Philippe in 1836
  • Used to celebrate the return of the victorious armies by having them march through the arch during the parade for their return to Paris
  • After World War 1 the tradition of walking through the arch ended and now they walk around the arch out of respect for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its symbolism (even Hitler respected this tradition after his invasion of Paris)

Reflection

After having the unique experience of witnessing the original Roman victory arches in the Roman Forum, it was breathtaking seeing one from such a modern time. When I think of civilizations conquering each other simply for expansion my mind always goes back to ancient Roman times or further back, not a century or two ago, not present day. Where the world was not explored and unknown lands surrounded you. Where we knew little of our neighbors and saw them simply as enemies. So to think thats it’s construction started merely 200 years ago, and that war as stained its surroundings less than a hundred years ago is hard to understand. We live in such a globalized world, yet we still see each others as enemies. We know that we are just a small speck in this massive universe, yet we still fight for even smaller specks. This monument, although beautiful and symbolic of France’s freedom, just serves as a reminder to me that the world has a long way to go before we see ourselves as members of one unified society rather than many warring ones.

George V

Louis Vuitton (Fashion)

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Facts

  • Paris has been a center for fashion from the 15th century to today
  • The Champs-Élysées has become known for its designer shops and the place to be if you want to be successful in Paris Fashion
  • The street consists of over 15 fashion and accessory stores
  • Louis Vuitton opened its first store on the street in 1913 and reopened it with its current design in 2005
  • In 1854, Louis Vuitton designed one of the first high end and practical suitcase trunks

Reflection

Paris has always been the center for fashion, in my life time and long before that, and the shops and people on Champs-Elysées perfectly represent that. Walking down the street you pass designer shop after designer shop, all trying to outdo the previous one. I find it interesting because all the shops seem to just be trying to show the luxuriousness of their brand rather than turn a profit. As my professor John Bailly said, “If you want your company to be known in France, you have to have a store on the Champs-Élysées”. The Louis Vuitton store really exemplifies this mindset as the store resembles a museum more than a place you buy clothes. There’s a line to get in with a bouncer at the door, vintage suitcases and clothes on display, and with the exorbitant prices it might as well be like your are looking at works of art and not something you will wear and risk damaging. There are many cities in the world that are known for great artworks, but Paris has managed to bring art into the day to day lives of the people through fashion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tour de France (Sports)

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Facts

  • The Tour de France is an annual men’s multiple stage bicycle race held in France that lasts 21 days
  • It was first started 1903 by a newspaper company named L’Auto to increase there sales
  • The first winner of the race a Frenchman named Maurice Garin and the most recent winner for this year was Egan Bernal
  • This year marked the 100th race (as it has gone on every year since its start except during WW1 and WW2)

Reflection

Witnessing the last stage of the Tour de France was something I never thought I would do in my life. Not because I didn’t have any interest to but because I never thought of it being a possibility, the thought never even crossed my mind when I would glimpse at the race from my TV at home. But when I saw those cyclists zoom by I was awestruck. Thousands of people from all over the world like me were all lined up to witness history in the making. All of the cyclists hard work and determination throughout the race were all culminating at this last moment and it showed through the ferocity at which they pedaled pedaled for that victory. What really made it unique and special to me though was how many Colombian’s there were cheering for their rider Egan Bernal. Although I am not Colombian, many of my closest friends are and I felt proud for them for this victory. It was a beautiful sight and it felt like I was already back home celebrating with them.

Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau

Jardins de Champs-Elysées (Parks)

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Facts

  • The Jardins de Champs-Elysées was one of the first official public parks made in Paris in 1667
  • It occupies 13.7 hectares of land and is on both sides of the Champs-Elysées
  • As of today the city of Paris has 421 public and museum owned parks and gardens
  • Starting in the late 20th century, French Presidents have had a tradition of creating new museums and parks to mark their period on office
  • 166 parks have been created since 1977

Reflection

One part of French culture I have not seen anywhere else is there love for parks. All around Paris, locals gather in these parks to relax, eat, spend time with friends and family. Nothing back home compares to this. No one really just goes outside to relax and enjoy the surroundings and people. They rather stay inside in their AC and play video games or watch TV. In our defense it is much hotter on average and the humidity is unbearable, but that shouldn’t confine that to our homes. It is not the way to live. This especially hits me at home because as software engineer, I spend all day looking at a computer screen to the point of exhaustion, and then have to come home only to do more of that. It gets to the point that I don’t want to look at another screen for the rest of the day but in our culture that is nearly impossible and my friends are never in the same mindset. So my time here has been liberating and every second I have spent just enjoying life in the parks of Paris has been priceless and I hope that this lifestyle I have been living here can transfer over for when I get back home.

Concorde

Luxor Obelisk (Imperialism)

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Facts

  • The obelisk was originally located at the Luxor Temple entrance in Egypt
  • The obelisk was given as gift by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ruler of Ottoman Egypt
  • Napoleon invaded and occupied France around 1978 in order to set up a trade route to the East
  • The French had two colonial empires, the 1st in the Americas starting in the 1500s, and the second in Africa starting in the 1800s

Reflection

When I look at this obelisk I think about all of the imperialization and colonization that occurred during European history. Western civilizations had consistently used their advanced technology and ideologies to plow through Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They went where they wanted, took what they wanted, and imposed whatever ideologies they deemed necessary on the local inhabitants. When looking back on history it is easy to see the acts of these western cultures as horrific. They came into foreign lands and planted their flags claiming it for themselves. Then murdering anyone who stood in their paths. Unlike regular war and conquest that they attempted on each other, which was usually more fair and civilized, imperialism was everything but that. They took advantage of their lack of technology and would needlessly shed blood, take their resources, and destabilize their governments to the point that most of those countries have not recovered to this day.

Louvre–Rivoli

Louvre (Art)

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Facts

  • The Louvre was created in 1190 as a fort to protect Paris
  • It was converted to the king’s palace in 1546 by Francis I until 1682 when Louis XIV moved it to Versailles
  • It was then converted to a museum by the National Assembly during the French Revolution in 1793
  • It is currently the worlds largest museum
  • There are over 38,000 objects on display from Ancient times to modern day

Reflection

If I could describe the Louvre with one word, it would be intimidating. The size of the palace itself is intimidating, the amount of works is intimidating, and just the overall feeling that you are around some of the worlds greatest works is intimidating. Seeing works from all ages, all places, all in one place was a marvel. One second you are looking at the intact remains of the original fort built on the location, the next you are starring at authentic Greek and Roman statues that inspired many of the greatest Renaissance artists before us. France prides themselves in their art skills and art appreciation, something that I believe the US doesn’t do enough of. The fact that going to the Louvre is cheaper than visiting PAMM is unbelievable yet that is the mindset of the country we will in. No one back home values art because they don’t see the immediate monetary reward for it and to be honest I was one of those people prior to completing Italy and France Study Abroad. But I’ve come to realize that art can be rewarding in more intellectual and spiritual ways that are necessary in making humanity more human.

Chatalet

Pompidou (Modern Art)

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Facts

  • It is where the Bibliothèque publique d’information, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, and the IRCAM are located
  • The Musée National d’Art Moderne is the largest modern art museum in Europe
  • The Museum contains over 100,000 works of art made by over 6,400 artists
  • The museum contains art from styles such as Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, Abstract Art, Surrealism for modern art and Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme, Conceptual art for contemporary art

Reflection

Prior to coming onto this trip. I had no understanding of modern art, no appreciation for it, and wondered what all the fuss was about. After visiting Pompidou and attending John Bailly’s lecture on modern art my eyes were opened. I’ve learned the reason behind it all and the intricacies and techniques backing their work and have found a new appreciation for this art. But I still hate it. I appreciate the attempt most modern artists make to be unique and creative but being unique and creative doesn’t always mean what you turn over is good. I do enjoy some of the ideas some artists bring to the table but after that it just becomes a bunch of artists trying to mimic those who succeeded before them hoping to get their time in the spotlight. When I see paintings that consist of multiple blank canvases or canvases painted all one color I don’t think of it as art but instead as just lazy and uninspiring attempts for fame and fortune. Yet somehow they still end up in some of the most prestigious museums in the world, which will forever baffle me.

Saint-Paul

Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis (Religion)

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Facts

  • Constructed between 1627 to 1641 on orders of Louis XIII
  • Design implements a mixture of Italian, French Gothic, and Dutch styles
  • Created for the Jesuits in the area until they were persecuted in 1762
  • In 1792, 5 priests were killed in the church during the September Massacres
  • It was then converted to the Cult of Reason and Supreme Being during the French revolution, only being restored to the Catholic Church in 1802 due to the Concordat of 1801

Reflection

Religion has always been a controversial topic in French history. Especially during revolutionary France. This church perfectly displays this controversy with how many times its control has changed hands. Starting with the Jesuits, then Catholics, then French Revolutionaries, then back to the Catholics. With every change of hands causing more tension. The main reason for such backlash comes from how closely the church was tied to the monarchy and its feudal ways, which in a time of rising republican ideals, created conflict between the citizens and the catholic and noble elite. After the revolution, the separation of church and state has remained to this day but unlike revolutionary times, religion is not as hated. Instead the French have a mutual respect for the church and its history and try to preserve it even if they don’t believe in it.

Bastille

Bastille (Revolution)

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Facts

  • The Bastille was built between 1370 and 1383 during the reign of king Charles V to defend Paris
  • It was turned into a prison in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIII
  • Housed primarily political prisoners as well as some religious ones
  • On July 14th 1789, the citizens of France stormed off the Bastille in search of weapons to fight the monarchy
  • By 1792, the Bastille was completely destroyed by revolutionaries and turned into a square celebrating liberty
  • In 1833, a column representing liberty was built in honor of the storming of the Bastille

Reflection

The storming of the Bastille symbolized the start of the French Revolution. It was both a political prison for the enemies of the monarchy and a weapons storage that the people could use against their oppressors. The tearing down of the prison and erection of a column signifying liberty stress the ideals of both the revolution and modern day France. This is a country that celebrates its freedom and will not hesitate to fight and shed blood for it. A recurring theme in the country’s history.

Sources

“Arc De Triomphe.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc_de_Triomphe.

Bureau, Paris Convention and Visitors. “All You Need to Know about the Champs-Élysées Paris – Paris Tourist Office – Paris Tourist Office.” En.parisinfo.com, en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/walks-in-paris/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-champs-elysees.

“Champs-Élysées.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champs-%C3%89lys%C3%A9es.

“The Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis in Paris Marais Neighborhood.” Sortiraparis.com, www.sortiraparis.com/arts-culture/walks/articles/171999-the-church-of-saint-paul-saint-louis-in-paris-marais-neighborhood/lang/en.

“French Colonial Empire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_colonial_empire.

“French Fashion.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_fashion.

“History – All Rankings, Starters, Stages, Jersey Wearers, Stage Winner on the Tour De France.” History – All Rankings, Starters, Stages, Jersey Wearers, Stage Winner on the Tour De France, www.letour.fr/en/history.

“History of Parks and Gardens of Paris.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 June 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_parks_and_gardens_of_Paris.

“Jardin Des Champs-Élysées.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 May 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jardin_des_Champs-%C3%89lys%C3%A9es.

“La Défense.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_D%C3%A9fense.

“List of Parks and Gardens in Paris.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parks_and_gardens_in_Paris.

“Louis Vuitton.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Vuitton.

“Luxor Obelisk.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxor_Obelisk.

Murray, Lorraine. “Arc De Triomphe.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Arc-de-Triomphe.

“Paris La Défense.” History of the Place | Paris La Défense, www.ladefense.fr/en/history-place.

Tanner, Jakob. “Louis Vuitton and Luggage: History of the Trunk.” Londnr, 13 Feb. 2019, londnr.com/louis-vuitton-and-luggage-history-of-the-trunk/.

“Tour De France.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_France.

“Tour Egypt.” Egypt, www.touregypt.net/hfrench.htm.

Walsh, Liz, et al. “The Crimes of French Imperialism.” Truthout, Truthout, truthout.org/articles/the-crimes-of-french-imperialism/.

“Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 July 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89glise_Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis.

Gianmarco Agostinone: France As Text 2019

Biography

-6762205938615373299_img_7260Photo by Alex Gutierrez (CC By 4.0)

Gianmarco Agostinone is a senior at Florida International University pursuing a combined Bachelors and Masters degree in computer science. It is his second study abroad, the first being Italy 2018. He plans on going into fintech (Financial Technology) after he graduates at a major banking institution.

Paris As Text

Paris, A City Like No Other by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Paris on July 7th 2019

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Paris, a city of great power and rich history. Founded over 2000 years ago by the Romans, it went from a weak and unorganized settlement to the cultural powerhouse it is today. It is the birthplace of many of today’s ideologies that we find to be basic rights. Documents such as Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen showed the world that the times of Monarchies stripping the rights of the many for the privilege of the few was over. This city lead the revolution not only in France but in all of Europe.

These achievements have neither been forgotten nor have ended in this city. As it is still recognized by the world for its triumphs, evident by the fact that over 40 million people visit the city a year to see for themselves the greatness it has become. Monuments such as the Notre Dame, are a testimony for Paris’s strength. It was built to show Paris’s power and beauty and today is still seen as such an influential monument that when it caught flames it was not just a tragedy for Paris but for the world.

But Paris is not only revered for its past but also its present. It leads the world with progressive ideas on improving the overall quality of life for its people. It provides amenities such as Universal Healthcare, free education, vast amounts of public parks, vast investments into the arts, affordable and good public transportation, and more. Paris has out shown, and will continue to outshine, cities around the world.

Versailles As Text

The Sun King by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Versailles on July 7th 2019

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Who was the Sun King?

Was he a power hungry dictator?

A man who wanted nothing else but to fulfill selfish and personal goals at the cost of his people?

Or was he a visionary?

Someone who knew that he had to put the immediate needs of the people second to the greater good of the country?

To understand this we must look further than his reasons and reflect on the outcome of his actions.

For when we look back at history, intent is always triumphed by the result.

So who was the Sun King?

He created a palace like no other.

One that strikes awe in friends and foes alike.

One so grandeur and magnificent that people from all over come to see it for themselves.

With a garden so vast that one could visit it a thousand times and it will never grow old.

He conquered his enemies.

Crushed the foreign legions who threatened his reign.

But he also waisted away his people’s coin.

Spent them on lavish things and unnecessary wars that although brought prosperity to France, took from the pockets of its people.

Yet they never ceased to adore him.

So who was the Sun King?

He was feared by his enemies.

He was envied by his allies.

He was loved by his people.

He was more than a man.

He was King Louis IV and he was a god.

Izieu As Text

Maison d’izieu by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Izieu on July 15th 2019

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The Maison d’izieu was a unique place.

One where children, who were persecuted and hunted down for nothing more than the religion their family practiced, could seek shelter.

Parents from all over France, sent their kids there in hope that they can have a better life and make it through this genocide their people were undergoing.

And it did work, for a time.

The Maison d’izieu was like an unaffected bubble in the war zone that surrounded them.

The kids their were able to attend classes, partake in activities, and enjoy life without the constant overhead threat that in any second all of their joy could be taken away.

They could live their lives as the normal kids they are and should be thought of as.

But one day that all changed.

When Klaus Barbie ordered his Gestapo thugs to raid the refugee.

Where they kidnapped 44 of the children and their 7 supervisors to send them away to camps.

Where they sent them to murder them.

It is a sick and disturbing idea that someone can justify to themselves that butchering children is okay.

There is no cause that should condone that.

Because children can’t harm anyone.

They don’t fight wars or commit crimes or join resistance fighters.

They just want to play outside and go to school and be with their friends and family.

So what happened at Maison d’izieu was more than just a thing that happens in war.

It was a crime against humanity.

And should not be forgotten.

Lyon As Text

The Letter by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Lyon on July 15th 2019

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Dear love,

I write to you, hoping that one day you will be able to read this. Hoping that one day we can reunite and live the rest of our lives together. Everyday I stay in my this hell hole they call Montluc, I feel my despair grow inside me. All day I am stuck in a cell with 7 others, never seeing the light of day, waiting for something, anything to happen. My cellmates and I pass the time talking of our families, our pastimes, our memories, anything to keep the reality of where we are from overwhelming us. Everyday I replay my memories of us together, wishing we can make new ones soon. Everyday I think about how this could have happened to us. How people let these men take us from our homes because of the religion we practice and the ideologies we preach. How do these things justify our imprisonment? If I could go back in time and change my beliefs I would if that meant I would be at home with you and not here in this hell. But here we are. Today they called my name out from a list, and that we were to leave in the afternoon. No one knows where, or why they told us to leave our belongings behind, but we can only wish for the best. And wish that one day we will reunite, and forget these horrible days.

Love,

Your husband

Normandy As Text

Nameless by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Normandy on July 25th 2019

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To the nameless comrades.

So young, yet so brave.

You sacrificed your lives so that those by your side can live to fight another day.

You may have no names, but your fellow comrades will forever remember your faces.

To the nameless fathers and mothers.

Who had to leave their children behind in this world.

You sacrificed watching your kids grow old, so that they could grow old.

You were not able to stay by their side and raise them, but you are always with them in their hearts.

To the nameless brothers and sisters.

Who had the rest of their lives to live and create beauty in the world.

You sacrificed your many years so that your little brother and sister can live in a world without such hate, and could remain the innocent little siblings you left them as.

To the nameless strangers.

The ones who had no personal gain for fighting this war.

No personal gain, yet they knew it was their duty to as a citizen of this world.

You sacrificed your lives for people you never met, people thousands of miles from your homes, and even though they will never know who you were, they will never forget what you have done for them.

So here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a friend, a stranger, known but to god, but remembered by everyone.

Reflection

When writing this poem I found inspiration from the idea that an individual can have such a profound impact on the world, and there could be no one who remembers their name. There are 307 unknown graves in this cemetery. 307 people who died fighting for one of the greatest causes this world has ever seen. And there is no one who knows who they were. They are just unmarked bodies in unmarked graves.

Dying this way is a terrifying way to go for me. Having your family know nothing about how you died and what you accomplished trying to make them proud. Having your family not know where you were buried of if you are even buried at all. They just know that you are gone and they will never be able to see you again.

The idea of disappearing from this world without a trace terrifies me, and yet these people took the risk and fought anyway. They looked past their fears to make a difference in this world and to make sure that no one after them will have to make the same decision as they or have it forced upon them. For that I am forever grateful.

When I think about these unmarked graves, I think of all the futures these people could have had if they lived. All of the memories, experiences, relations that will never happen. My grandpa was one of the lucky ones who survived fighting in the war, but what if he didn’t? He would have never married my grandma, never had my mom, and I would never have been born.

I wouldn’t be in France right now, learning about these heroes and living my life. One stray bullet could have been the deciding factor of my existence and that of those who died fighting for it.

This all has just shown me how fragile life is and makes me thankful for those who risked and gave up their lives fighting for the lives of others and I.

Pere Lachaise As Text

Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Pere Lachaise on July 26th 2019

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Photo by Alex Gutierrez (CC By 4.0)

Background

Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès was born on October 18th, 1753. He was a French nobleman that proved to become a vital member of the French Revolution with his skills in law and as a statesman. During the early days of the revolution, he was against the National Convention’s trial of Louis XVI stating that they did not have the power to act as judge and jury and that he should have a fair trial. But nevertheless he voted with the majority against Louis XVI, although stating that his execution should be postponed until it was ratified by a legislative body.

Later on in the revolution, he became a member of the Committee of Public Safety where he worked on many of the country’s legislative works. He was then a diplomat that was able to negotiate peace with Spain, Tuscany, Prussia and the Batavian Republic. Not supporting initial coups due to their more radical supporters, as the revolution took a more moderate turn he backed the rise of Napoleon, who eventually made him his second in command.

Under Napoleon, he basically ran the country. He was in charge of many of the everyday decisions for the country and represented Napoleon in his frequent absences at the Senate. Although he was extremely knowledgeable in the current affairs and inner workings of the country, Napoleon continuously ignored his advice. Some being drastic mistakes such as the entering war with Russia.

Nonetheless he was able to create his most important piece of work under Napoleon, the Napoleonic Code. This was one of the first set of laws in France that ended the Feudal laws previously in place throughout the country. It finally unified all the various local laws and customs around the country into one unambiguous set of laws.

After the reinstatement of the Monarchy he was sent to exile to Brussels until 1818 when he was allowed to return to France where he stayed until he died in 1824.

Reflection

Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès was a very intelligent man. Although born into nobility, he was from a poor family and had to work hard for his position in life. So he understood the revolutionary cause and thats why he became active supporter. But he knew that in the turmoil of the French Revolution, advocating too strongly for one side could get you killed if the wrong people got a hold of you. So throughout his life he stayed in the middle of both sides as a moderator, trying to unite the country and only leaning towards one way when he knew it was a guaranteed victory. This is what allowed his to live a full life at the end instead of meeting his fate at the bottom of a guillotine.

Whenever he could he would do his best to push his advice to Napoleon even though it would often be ignored, which would always turn out to be fatal mistakes. If Napoleon would have listened, he could have avoided war with Russia and may have retained power.

I feel a big part of him always being more moderate in nature and never insistent on his beliefs was that he was openly gay in a time where it wasn’t legal to be. He would always be made fun of for it and at times disregarded for it. But he still worked hard to make France a better country and earn a reputation as a smart and intelligent man. And it is said that he didn’t outrightly legalize homosexuality but he did help normalize it and write out the direct wording of it being illegal in French law.

Although I have no real personal connection with this man, since I’m not nobility, a lawyer, a statesman, a diplomat or anything this man was, I still have a profound respect for him. He did what he could to both stay alive and help his country. He helped tear down the monarchy, attempting to do it in a legal manner. He essentially ran France while Napoleon refused to, he created one of the first widespread legal codes that became the basis for modern republics, and he knew better than to let his greed get to him by fighting against the unnecessary wars the Napoleon kept on dragging the country into. He did the best he could to keep both the country and himself alive. Even though he failed to uphold the Republic, it was not his fault and even in exile, his ideas and beliefs lived on.