Dresden, TN Mayor visits London, Paris, Rome and Dresden, Germany

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Mark and Keri Maddox’s children - Mark Lee, Meyer Blaine and Molly Shannon, are seen outside Buckingham Palace in London.[/caption]

Mark Maddox and his son stand in front of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The monument, which honors those who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, was inaugurated on July 29, 1836, after 30 years of construction. Under its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War.

The Maddox family visited the Sistine Chapel, located in Vatican City, Rome, which is famous for the frescos painted on the ceiling from 1508 until 1512 by none other than Michelangelo. The famous artist, who began to work on the frescoes for Pope Julius II, replaced a blue ceiling dotted with stars with Old Testament scenes. The Sistine Chapel is one of the chapels of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City State, where the pope’s official residence is located.[/caption]

Saint Peter’s tomb is a site under St. Peter’s Basilica that includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of Saint Peter’s grave.[/caption]

The Maddox family viewed the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, located in the center of the city, just east of the Roman Forum. It is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built and is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world, despite its age. Construction on the building was completed in 80 A.D.

BY DAVID FISHER

david@magicvalleypublishing.com

Dresden TN Mayor Mark Maddox recounts the many interesting historic sites and cultural differences his family experienced during a recent vacation to Europe.

Maddox was accompanied on the trip by wife Kerri; daughters – Meyer Blaine, 23, and Molly Shannon, 21; and son Mark Lee, 18.

“My family and I try to take a small vacation every year, if we can,” Maddox said. “Usually that’s in Texas to visit Kerri’s parents. But, two years ago, the girls got together and said, ‘we want a trip. We don’t want any Christmas presents.’ “So, we did not get them Christmas presents that year.”

Maddox stated, because of scheduling conflicts, the family didn’t get to have a vacation last year, as planned. “So, I said, ‘everybody block your calendars – we’re going to go to Europe’, and we finally saved up enough money to do that. So, we decided to go to London, Paris and Rome. After I got elected in November, I came up with the idea we should also visit Dresden, Germany.

“We left on Sunday, June 11th. We flew from Nashville to Philadelphia to London.”

London

“On Wednesday, we made the subway trek to Buckingham to catch the Changing of the Guard, Maddox said.

“Mark, Molly, and Meyer navigated us to ‘the mall’. We were not able to get close to the gates, so we stationed ourselves along the parade route and were able to see the “old” guard come in from St. James Palace and the “new” guard go in from the barracks.

“The biggest highlight was when I spotted two black SUVs coming down the street and heard the twitter of the crowd. King Charles rode right in front of us on his way to Buckingham Palace. What a treat.

“We saw Picadilly Circus (what a center of activity at that intersection) and more Big Bus Tour stops including St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the other two highlights of the day occurred. We participated in the Communion Service there and my children convinced me to climb the 568 steps to the top of the dome where we got a fantastic view of London.

“That night, we split up. Kerri, Molly and Mark took in ‘Wicked’ while Meyer and I watched the Royal Ballet Company perform three acts from three different composers. What a treat for her to be in the Royal Opera House and watch her favorite art form.

“We met a couple in front of us. He was a lawyer from Scotland. She was an engineering student who had decided to pursue something else. They were a delight!”

The Maddox family also visited Windsor Castle and Stonehenge.

“We had the opportunity to eat in a pub that was built in the 1300s. We had fish and chips that day. They’re big on French fries, they love their French fries.”

France

“While in France, we toured the Louvre Museum and saw the Mona Lisa,” Maddox said. “We also saw the Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, shopped on the Champs Elysee and took pictures of the Arc de Triomphe.

“The French people were kind to us and my broken French.”

Concerning the foods enjoyed during their overseas trip, Maddox said, “In France, they had some really good crepes, and vegetables.”

Rome

“We took a food tour in Italy to learn what they eat,” Maddox said. “We had pasta and pizza, and they had the best breads. Their breakfast consists of a cup of coffee and sweet bread. Their meats have a stronger flavor than our meats here, but they eat beef and pork, just like we do. In Rome, they eat much later and much smaller meals; but they’ll eat five times a day. So, we were having dinner sometimes at 8:30 to 9:30 at night.

“Also, they have outdoor water fountains for people to drink from, that comes right out of a spring. It comes out of the aqueducts that the Romans built.” These Roman aqueduct systems were built over a period of about 500 years, from 312 B.C.E. to C.E. 226. Both public and private funds paid for their construction.

“Bikes and public transit are very important to them,” Maddox said. “We used the public transit system in every country we visited, except for Italy, and that’s just because we didn’t take the time to figure it out. There were a lot of bikes and motorcycles in Italy, and they drive fast. A 12-foot-wide street is a premium over there, and some streets were only 10-feet wide. Because of the narrow streets, they are one-way.”

Germany

Next, the Maddox family traveled to Dresden, Germany, which is the capital city of the German state of Saxony.

“We arrived there on Monday, June 19th and explored a little bit on our own that day.”

Maddox stated, in March 2023, he emailed the staff of Dirk Hilbert, the Lord Mayor of the City of Dresden, Germany, and scheduled a meeting with him. “We went to city hall in Dresden at 10 o’clock in the morning and the mayor met with us. We signed their guestbook at the invitation of Mayor Hilbert.”

“We had a conversation about our work and about his work.” Maddox noted it was not necessary to have an interpreter, since the mayor spoke excellent English. “His city has a population of about 600,000 people, while we’re about 3,000. He has about 7,000 city employees. I have 27,” Maddox said.

“It’s a really big difference, but we found some common ground. We had a good conversation. We’re building a city hall, and they’re also building a new city hall. He’s transferring all of his people over. Their current city hall was built in the 1300s. The ceilings were painted with frescos. I thought – holy mackerel – it’s unbelievable.

“He gave me the opportunity to address their deputy mayors’ conference, which meets every Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock. The deputy mayors are their department heads. There must have been 40-50 people in that room. After I made a few opening remarks, I opened the floor for questions.

“One of them asked about our recovery from the December 10, 2021, tornado.

“I told them ‘it’s going well. We have two buildings that are already up.’ “I told them, one of the buildings Dresden has rebuilt is Mears Warner’s church.” He explained that Mears Warner was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and one of the founding members of Dresden.

To gain historical perspective, it should be noted that the church was organized in 1828 at the house of Mears Warner (1799-1863) by Reverend Richard Beard. The original church was constructed in 1842 and replaced with a new building in 1889. It was this church, located on the corner of South Wilson and East Nelson Street, that was destroyed by the tornado and has been recently rebuilt.

Additionally, Weakley County was established on October 21, 1823, and Dresden was incorporated in 1827. The town of Dresden was named after the birthplace of Mears Warner’s father, who was from Dresden, Germany.

Maddox said, “After meeting with city officials, we went out with a reporter from a local newspaper and took a lot of pictures. We took a little tour of their downtown area, which was totally wiped-out during WWII. They’re still rebuilding the structures destroyed in the bombing of WWII 80 years later. They’re using the same stones to rebuild these buildings. The resilience of the people of Dresden, Germany really matches the resilience of the people of Dresden, Tennessee.”

Often referred to as “Florence on the Elbe”, Dresden is well known for a seemingly inexhaustible number of architecturally significant buildings.

Dresden’s Altstadt (Old Town) located on the left bank of the Elbe River, is Dresden’s historical center, with buildings from the Renaissance, the Baroque and the 19th century. Maddox stated the old part of the city is where the old city hall and opera house are located. This is the area of town where his family stayed during their visit to Dresden.

“They were holding the World Special Olympic Games, which started in Dresden the day after we left, I think,” Maddox recalled.

“It was a good visit. I invited him to Dresden. He said, ‘I’d be glad to. They’re already accusing me of traveling too much, so I might as well do it.’”

Maddox said as his family prepared to leave Dresden, “We wished them well when we parted, and I think I made a couple of new friends. It was a really special part of our vacation.”

Cultural Differences

Maddox said his wife and children also liked the historical sites visited during their European vacation. “We learned new things about England and France, Italy and Germany that we didn’t know.”

When asked what some of the things that he found interesting and different than in the Unites States, Maddox said, “One of the things that surprised me was that the restaurants don’t serve ice with their drinks. They serve liquids at room temperature. However, as the heat wave came across while we were there, they began to chill their water. The best tasting water we had was in Germany.

“Also, we had some really good sausage in Germany.

“In all of the countries we visited, we did not have a bad meal,” Maddox said.

As far as accommodations are concerned, he said, “By far, the German hotel we stayed in was the best hotel. Their rooms over there are a lot smaller than ours. But, you’re not there to spend a lot of time in your motel room. You’re there to shower and sleep. We had to rent two motel rooms everywhere we stayed, because they won’t put more than three people in a room.”

Maddox said, “They’re really big into the environment. They’re very careful about energy consumption. You had to have a key card to turn on the lights, and when you leave, you take the key card with you to unlock the door when you return. When you remove the key card, the lights go out.

“They recycle a lot of their trash. It’s just a habit for their citizens to do that. There are two garbage cans, and they know which ones to put the plastic and paper in.”

Return Home

“We came back from Europe on Sunday, June 25th and got here Monday, June 26th around 2:00 a.m.,” Maddox said.

“In all the traveling we did, we had two delays – one was the plane out of Frankfort, Germany into Dresden, Germany, which was about three minutes. The other was a seven hour delay out of JFK in New York to Nashville.”

“It was a great trip,” Maddox said. “We were blessed to be able to go, and we learned a lot.”

Maddox stressed his family’s vacation did not involve any city funds.