Olympics Opening Ceremony has become a show case of the host country's cultural heritage to the world. This year, 2012, people of London have the honor to host the event. While I have limited access to the broadcasting of Olympics, I caught a few clips of the opening ceremony, and it is a job well done.
Let's go to the U.S. for a bit to introduce a parallel story of a city I love greatly (don't worry, I'll bring the attention back to London later on).
San Francisco is the fog city of the United States. As you driving on the scenic California State Highway 1 (CA-1) into the city, approaching its north end in the Marina District, the monumental Golden Gate Bridge emerges from behind the white misty veil. "Welcome to San Francisco," the bridge painted in international orange greets. As you stand on the bridge, look toward east, a domed building in the midst of fog to the right side of San Francisco downtown cityscape is the rotunda of The Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the last reminders of 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition; many considers it as the greatest international exposition ever held on the soil of the U.S.. The event was held just after much of the city was burned down to the ground as the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. The event brought in much needed revenue for the devastated San Francisco to stand on its feet again. The event had a lot of significance than ones mere to exhibit one's wealth and power. San Francisco needed it, or the city would fade into the background and exist no more. More history of the 1915 event is here: http://www.sanfranci...amapacific.html
I was right across it on Crissy Field watching the 75th Anniversary of Golden Gate Bridge firework. I have seen greater fireworks before, but it was extra special to me because the event was held in a place I love dearly (San Jose is further south, but San Francisco is close enough to be considered my extended home town). To celebrate an old friend's 3/4 century birthday with all people of different age, backgrounds and great diversity was already quite exciting (you have to be here). However, as I passed by The Palace of Fine Arts on the way home, knowing it oversaw the bridge's construction and completion, and the fall and the rise of the city, provoked much response to me. Itself has gone through many stages of life: from its heyday to other temporary gigs as tennis courts ground, to temporary fire station, or simply as an abandoned building with graffiti. It finally was rebuilt (in the 1960's and then later 2009 with permanent materials) does it finally stand with its solemn dignity as one of the most recognized landmarks in San Francisco today. Sometimes things take time. (I wonder if there will be an event for its centennial anniversary, since they are moving Exploratorium out, and hopefully it'll return to its original function as art gallery).
Let us move back to the other side of the globe, to London. While I saw only a few clips of the opening ceremony (I could not get any NBC signal through antenna broadcasting...), but my impression of it is a pleasant one. The great mill/foundry segment is a reminder that the Great Britain was the world's leader back in the time of Industrial Revolution. I am not sure if I were the Queen, I would agree to do the parachute stunt. It exhibits a lot of humbleness for someone who is suppose to be the head of the state. It is very admirable of her to do it for the sake of her people. The mixture of rich history and pop icons that UK has to offer was well done (Hey Jude is an excellent picked by Sir Paul McCartney), at the same time they did not forget the humble beginning of the country by recognizing it with the British country segment. While having pride in one's country is wonderful, but it should be superseded by humility and consideration of its diplomatic consequence. In that sense, I think London did a wonderful job balancing the act while providing a necessary pump to its people across all spectrum of class and diversity. I can imagine how it may bring tears to the British people just like the Bridge and the Palace did to me. Just my not so humble opinion.
Here is the explanation of the Opening Ceremony:
"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." -- Edmund Burke
It takes a lot more than money and power to be a leader of society. How about start with humanity?