March 27, 2008

War! What is it Good For?

I could make a long blog post, I'm sure, about helping the oppressed, freeing people from tyrants and various other answers to my question above, but war is also really, really good at accumulating stuff that can later be put in a museum.

Or we could entitle this: I forgot one of the stops we made in London in our last week there. I mentioned before that by the last week we'd hit all of my must see stops. We had not gotten to the museum my husband really wanted to visit -- The Imperial War Museum. Such museums, full of tanks, submarines, blood stained brief cases and other military paraphernalia are not places I object going to, but I generally don't go out of my way to visit them either. It's a guy thing.

Fortunately, my husband had a short day at work on our final Tuesday in London and we headed down to Elephant and Castle station on a rainy afternoon (we could have gotten out at the station before, but The Boy wanted to see what it was like at the end of the line). Areas south of the river always seem a little sketchier. Though nothing untoward occurred or was seen, I was kind of glad not to be wandering around that area by myself with my entourage of children.

When one walks up to the front of the museum, one is greeted by a 15" gun off a WWI battleship. Guns and 'splody things may not exactly be my cup of tea, but knowing that that was a "small" gun of its type was most impressive.

I've been to Dayton's Air Force museum and I've been to the Naval Air Base Museum in Pensacola and probably a few other military museums in the US, so seeing the usual tanks and all wasn't exactly unfamiliar, but it is a very full and well presented museum. It was interesting and strangely surprising (though it should not have been) to see someone else's views (even those of our ally) on wars we fought together.

The tour-able bomber and the submarine exhibit were particularly interesting to the kidlets. I didn't have the stomach to take of whiff of what the inside of a sub really smelled like, but some of the braver among us report that it was not what one would describe as a pleasant fragrance.

My husband and I were both far more interested in the large exhibit taking one through both World Wars, the period between them and the Cold War, than the kids were. We lost their interest at some point, but I suppose since we've never spent much time studying that point in history with them, we can hardly blame them for not being terribly interested.

Having small children and only a limited amount of time, we skipped the section on the Holocaust. The kids were fidgety already and there is a time to introduce the horror and sadness of that to them, but that wasn't the time.

Even skipping a section we still spent over three hours wandering around the place, learning about the brave men and women who fought for our allies in the past and seeing their equipment.

For boys (especially ones in their thirties) it was well worth the trip. For the girls, it was a good visit as well, but maybe we should have split off and spent more time admiring the dresses at the Victoria and Albert Museum.