Thursday, April 26, 2007

Perspective: 70 years of 'shock and awe'

SEVENTY YEARS AGO, on April 26, 1937, at 4:40 in the afternoon when the stone-walled, medieval Basque town of Guernica was packed with peasants, shoppers and refugees for its Monday afternoon market along the riverfront, a church bell rang out. The townspeople had heard the warning before. It meant that enemy planes were approaching.

Since ancient times, Basques had gathered in this town under an oak tree to reaffirm their laws. Even today, the elected head of the Basque government travels to Guernica to take his oath of office under an oak tree, "humble before God, standing on Basque soil, in remembrance of Basque ancestors, under the tree of Guernica…."

This tree, a few thousand residents, the people who had come to the market and thousands of refugees from other parts of the Basque provinces who had fled the ongoing Spanish Civil War were the only targets. Oddly, the oak tree survived.

Read the rest at the LA Times