Solo Travel: Why do we go to sad places?
On Tuesday we had a guest post on “Solo Travel to Berlin” by Dian of GirlsGetaway.com. She beautifully describes one very intense day in that city that has so many sites of sadness. As I prepared it for publication, I recalled a post that I had started but did not complete. It is this one in which I explore the question: why do we go to sad places?
I’ve spent Remembrance Day at Vimy Ridge, a little piece of Canadian soil in France given to Canada for a war memorial after World War I. I’ve been to Dachau, a former concentration camp and the site of mass murders during World War II. I have visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington and the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in Memphis. All these places are known for their sad history.
Why do I go?
Beyond having a thing for history, I believe that I go to these sad places for three reasons:
As Churchill famously said: “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” These sites are saved, turned into museums, given plaques and monuments so that we remember our history. They are there to point to and help us learn from our past and avoid at least some mistakes in the future.
Going to these site is an act of respect for the victims, the heroes and everyone in between who were associated with a hard learned lesson.
In certain ways, I think this is the most important reason for going to these places. When we see a concentration camp turned into a museum, when we see the remnants of the Berlin wall or the land around a major battle preserved, we are reminded that sometimes we do manage to right wrongs. Good can win. And, even though there is so much that still needs fixing in our world, that we are capable of doing so. By celebrating sad places, we affirm our hope for the future.
Why do you think we travel to sad places? Please add your thoughts in the comments.