A photograph to provoke thought. This is, of course, the skyline of San Francisco. But it is seen from inside Fort Point, the old military base at the southern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Prior to the advent of air-based military power, Fort Point, along with several other forts and artillery batteries, held watch over the entrance to the bay. You’re actually looking out over some of the gun emplacements.
And I would not have wanted to be a hostile vessel!
The fort alone was basically an acre-sized machinegun, with probably close to a hundred cannons firing 10-16 inch shells (essentially 90% of what look like windows were really cannon ports). Never you mind the probably 2 dozen plus other artillery emplacements outside the straight, plus Alcatraz (a military installation before it was a prison), Yerba Buena Island (still home to the Coast Guard Admiral), and Rincon Point waiting should anyone manage to survive the initial gauntlet. Suffice to say the many military bases inside the bay were deemed VERY important. For the record that includes the above, plus Moffet Field, Mare Island, Alameda shipyards, Hunters’ Point shipyards, Angel Island (once home to ballistic missiles), Mt. Umunhum radar station, Onizuka AFB (a.k.a. the “Blue Cube”), and probably a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head. Forgive me if I fuddle the dates on what installations dated to before or after the forts were taken offline.
All the Bay’s initial defenses are now gone, long since scrapped and deemed obsolete in the face of air power. And most of those that remain are under the aegis of the National Park Service.
Which to me begs the question – what happens when the world moves on? Does it, let alone its inhabitants, remember what came before? Or are those echoes only left for someone dedicated enough to sleuth for them?
And does that reflect upon the value of the contribution? If what you did is now obsolete, and has little bearing on either the here-and-now, or on where things go from this point, of what value is it? This is of particular relevance in the shadow of Silicon Valley, where anything or anyone deemed “old” might as well be caveman Grog, good only for an exhibit in the Smithsonian or Louvre.
What does it mean to continue to exist after your time of immediate relevance has passed? Will future generations value or understand what has come before, or be wrapped up in their day-to-day?
Things to ponder after the guns fall silent. Who will remember, what will they remember or forget, and what will they value?
How long is a lifespan, and how long again is the memory of it?