My feelings about the events of yesterday remind me that I’m coming up on the fifth year anniversary of my return to the states after my 3-year stay in Brussels. It hardly seems possible as I feel it was just yesterday I was admiring the biennial flower carpet in the Grand Place.
Four months ago I scrambled for news that friends in Paris were safe after the November attacks. Today I repeated the now-too-frequent scurry for information, this time friends and former colleagues in Brussels. In both cases all were fine. My heart then turned to those whom I’ve never met but instantaneously became close to on these fateful days.
Brussels is a beautiful city. In some ways it’s typical of old European cities with its central plaza (the Grand Place), impressive cathedrals, and amazing architecture. In other ways it is supremely atypical. As both the capital of Belgium and the capital of the European Union, the city has the aura of Washington, DC with its international flavor and populace. Away from the old city sits the EU quarter, glass skyscraping office buildings replacing the ancient mix of Gothic, Baroque, and Louis XIV edifices. Like DC, the city features the embassies of virtually every foreign nation. Even Belgians are multinational, with three official languages reflecting its Dutch, French, and German heritages.
I have fond memories of the city, the people, and my former colleagues. I have the urge to see them again, and so will put a return trip on my busy travel calendar. For now, my feelings for the events of yesterday are best represented by one of Brussels’s most iconic landmarks, the Manneken Pis.
Until we meet again, mon cher.
David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in spring 2016.