Heroes Wall – Fayth Nedeau

     Located in Biddeford, the Heroes Wall pays tribute to maine veterans, living or deceased, who have served or are still serving our country today. A news story by WGME, that covered the Heroes Wall, explained that there are “more than 300 tiles–all with a different story,” but with one purpose. The Heroes Wall acts as a way to bring the community together to remember and reflect on those who have served.

     In an interview with WGME, Derek Volk, the co-owner of Volk Packaging Corporation commented on the wall and said, “It just grew into something much bigger than I ever expected it to be.” This statement certainly summarizes the wall as it was, in the building process, probably unclear of who the wall was actually for besides the general public. In my opinion, the Heroes Wall was meant for the immediate families of maine veterans honored on the wall. 

     By immediate family I mean older family as in spouses, partners, older siblings and parents that can actually understand the impact the Heroes Wall can have. Changing from living with a person within the same household for a good portion of your life to not seeing that person at all is not an easy transition. Knowing their loved one’s work is being recognized can alleviate some tension within their family and, as silly as it sounds, can be very healthy for their mentality. It’s almost always frustrating when credit is not given where credit is due but the Heroes Wall has the power to educate mainer’s on some of the most important people from our state.  

     Not only does the wall pay tribute to maine veterans but, in a way, the wall also pays tribute to the families of fallen soldiers as the memory of hundreds of maine veterans lives on through their personalized tiles. The Heroes Wall has the ability to touch the hearts of many families who have been affected by the deployments and tragedies of their loved ones and, fortunately, the lives of many strangers as well.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Will Render You Speechless

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, directed by Mark Herman, exceedingly captures the grotesque truth of what most artists fail to recognize within their holocaust based films. Children, although small in size, have a tremendous role in the terrifying cataclysm we only wish was a movie.

The movie is based on the friendship of two of the unlikeliest of friends. Bruno, the son of a Commandant under the command of Adolph Hitler, and Shmuel, a young Jewish boy imprisoned behind the barb wire fences of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Their friendship is similar to that of many love stories; separated by their families mere difference of opinion. As the movie progresses, so does their bond. The boys develop a brotherly love and piece of mind for one another as they become attached at the hip, despite the electric fence dividing their two worlds. Empathy and understanding develop between these two all while they’re unaware of each other’s roles in their own imprisonment.

The choice of perspective for this movie is artistry. The movie is shown through the eyes of Bruno, which allows the audience to witness the holocaust through his oblivion and innocence. Although the developing friendship between the two boys points out the unfortunate differences between their lives, Bruno’s innocence and lack of understanding about their very different situations has him believing he is just as trapped as his new friend Shmeul.

As with most movies about the holocaust, there is no full satisfaction of a happy ending. With this movie in particular, the dramatic irony is downright frustrating. Although, the frustration serves a purpose in bringing out emotions of sadness, anger and injustice.

Like it or not, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat which, in my opinion, classifies it as a success.


Human Composting

Recomposition, more commonly known as human composting, has quickly emerged from just an idea into a fast growing study capturing the attention of many. The brains behind this fast growing discovery are those of Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose, a human composting company. Human composting offers an alternative final resting place in addition to cremation and burial. By May 1 of 2020, Washington will become the first state to legalize recomposition primarily because it’s been proven to be more environmentally friendly on top of other benefiting components.

Human composting started from the search for a more environmentally friendly, less polluting way to care for the remains of loved ones. In 2018, a study conducted, with the help of Washington State University, to test the effects of human composting. The remains of six bodies had been donated towards the research effort. In the end, the study was a success as the bodies were composted into nutrient rich soil that had met state and federal guidelines.
How the process works is through “creating the right environment for microbes to do their job,” as Katrina Spade explains. A deceased body is placed in a moist container with straw and wood chips that also has a chemical balance of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. These materials support the activity of microbes which speeds up the recomposition process significantly; much different compared to that of in the natural woods. By accelerating the process, safe and usable soils is ready in about 4 to 7 weeks.

The entire point of human composting is to better the environment and reduce the pollution being emitted into the earth through burial and cremation. Katrina Spade was invited to present aTedtalk informing others about the benefits recomposition has to offer. Within her presentation she stated, “In the United States, 30 million board feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of concrete, 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, and 90,000 tons of steel are used every year for conventional burials. Cremation releases 250,000 tons of CO2 each year, the equivalent of burning nearly 30 million gallons of gasoline.” Recomposition uses one-eighth of the energy involved in cremation which is why more and more people are choosing to go green. Among 40-year-olds, the support behind green funerals has risen from 43 percent to 64 percent from 2010 to 2015, there’s no doubt it’s increased significantly since then.

Recomposition gives loved ones the chance to “best represent their values” while still being beneficial to the environment. So what’s stopping people from supporting this in all fifty states? For starters, the question of whether or not it’s ethical within some cultures is an issue. A major obstacle in getting people to support human composting is that some find it “repulsive” and a “contravention of cultural and religious norms.” Others tend to focus on the unproven negatives within the study. For example, how beneficial would composting a body be if pharmaceuticals and alcohol were in its system? Or, if we are cautious to compost livestock within the same soil as our fruits and vegetables, why wouldn’t we be towards a human body? Even though studies have proven recomposition meets the guidelines for dangerous pathogens, that won’t convince everyone. Although Spade says, “The very last thing we’ll ever do on this earth is poison it” so why not work to change that and make the very last thing we do on this earth be to nourish it.