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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > Jbeil-Byblos > Halat Bridge 2006


Bridges, Bombed in the Year 2006

In every society, group of people, community, or nation, there are exchanges at every level and in every field, domain, succession and sector. Education, culture, work, sport, industry, communications, consumption, love, prayer and dialogue, the list is long and covers the whole of existence, even Heaven, Paradise, the Good God and the world to come.

The Holy Father, the Pope, the Sovereign Pontiff (from the Latin Pons, Pontis, a bridge1) is a bridge between us and Heaven. In the ritual of ceremonies, in prayers addressed to God our Creator, to the Virgin Mary, to the saints in glory beyond, to Paradise, the priest pontiff is a bridge uniting this world to Heaven, to the spiritual world, to the divine, and to the world beyond, and when as minister at the altar he dons his vestments and prays aloud and incenses the cross, the holy pictures and the faithful, he “pontificates”, being the bridge (pons) between earth and the above...

This symbolism leads us to consider earthly relationships, the bonds that men set up between them in this world. Thanks to the bridges which bind, unit, and bring men together, immense spaces separated by rivers and gulfs are joined together, spaces where life has developed in different ways, with particular races, cultures and religions with their various claims about who has a right to the body of water. The river Rhine long separated two rival peoples, the Germans and the French, but the bridge of Kohl at Strasbourg reconciled them.

We hear talk about the Roman, Phoenician and Arab bridges and aqueducts and about the importance of these constructions for communication between the opposing shores. Even at Paris, every bridge has a legendary history behind it, Pont-Neufs, Lovers’ Bridge, and Goldsmiths’ Bridge. At Toulouse the road of thirty-six bridges along the Garonne has brought the two banks of the river into a common destiny.

Bridges have been the work of great artists and have attracted thousands of tourists and curious sight-seers. Even in Lebanon, where so many deep torrents and gullies have isolated different regions, the remains of ancient Roman bridges are to be found, that of Septimus Severus, Lovers’ Bridge near Ajaltoun where young folk meet, Basha Bridge, The Sheikh’s over Nahr el-Kalb (Dog River), and the little Roman bridge at Maameltein.

There are modern bridges and fly-overs, realizations of the Public Works and of engineers to allow easy communication both civil and military, the bridges of Madfoun joining North Lebanon and Central Lebanon, Fidar Bridge, the new Ghazir Bridge and all those of the Beqaa, South Lebanon, Tyre and Sidon, all resplendent with strength and beauty.

In the year 2006 there was no comparison between the forces of Lebanon and those of Israel. Lebanon was faced with a belligerent Israel, a destructive invader without pity, and with no respect for justice or for the liberties of others. Having at its disposition a powerful and greatly superior war machine, it allows itself to scatter death and destruction as it pleases, bombarding infrastructure, power houses, factories and hospitals, with the main aim of paralyzing communication.

In 2006 within a few minutes all the bridges in Lebanon were bombed, cutting means of contact and supply routes and succor. This was done with unparalleled savagery. Some examples I saw with my own eyes on the ground and others on television.

To destroy bridges is to destroy the ties within a civilization. Of course, there are other more modern means of contact such as radio, television, and internet, with the use of satellites. But on a practical level, to destroy a bridge is to destroy all daily activity and all work in hospitals, bakeries, and schools; it is to disrupt food, power, and water supplies and routine travel. Yes, in 2006 our dear little country, source of culture and civilization and knowledge throughout the entire world, saw a hundred of its bridges destroyed.

But thanks to its greatness, its life, its dynamism, its faith in God, its resolve, its pride and its mission, Lebanon always rises like a phoenix from the ashes. Lebanon has arisen greater and prouder than ever. Reconstruction began the very same day thanks to a people of rare quality. Lebanon does not die; its people’s ability to build, construct, and survive, is a gift of Heaven. As for the bridges, I have seen them rise up greater, more solid, ever prouder, to mock the Israeli arsenal.

All the neighboring countries should have come out to make front and to fight, but they went down on their knees. Lebanon for its part has only preached love, friendship, pardon and dialogue. It does not have an arsenal like that of the United States, but is like the reed of La Fontaine. It bends but it does not break. It rises up like Adonis in the anemones on the banks of the river. All the bridges once strengthened have taken back their original role, uniting the regions, ferrying life, multiplying relationships, offering new roads, throbbing with vehicles bounding with life after winning a victory.

Our enemies, you have not taken hold of us. We are still here, resplendent, renewed, and victorious. Long live Lebanon the Eternal!
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1- In pagan Rome, the High Priest was in charge of the building and maintenance of bridges, a religious office at a time when there was no distinction between religious and civil life. Hence he was called Pontifex (Bridge-maker) Maximus, a title that passed into Christian use. It should be noted that the original version of this text was in French, in which language the word for “bridge” is pont, close to the Latin.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: K.J. Mortimer

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Halat Bridge 2006: >> View Movie << (2006-08-01)

 

 


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