A Visit To The Tomb of The Unknown Survivor

I lost this whole post. This is attempt number two. Computers conspire against us all.

First, an introduction. This reporter, soon to graduate from the renowned institution University of Olympus is, in a desperate attempt to bring meaning into her life, is beginning this blog. This blog will probably contain the toothing troubles of my expulsion from Eden into the so-called 'real world'.

I was inspired to bring this blog into life by a visit to The Tomb of The Unknown Survivor, which I had never been to before, but as many of you will know is just outside of Olympus, and attracts a huge number of gawping tourists.

Most of you know the mythological version of the story behind this tomb, and the foundation of this Fair City. It's amazing and fascinating that even the most well-documented of historical events can acquire a mythological background in so little as two-hundred years but it is one of the human races most amazing skills. Even the information boards around the Tomb were hazy on the details.

As a person who has completed approximately 5/8ths of a class on this very subject (HIS487) I count myself practically an expert on this topic and I feel it is my duty to enlighten this world and others to the reality of the situation. Let me tell you the story:

Once upon a time there was a really popular television show called Survivor. It was a so-called reality show in which contestants were marooned in some difficult situation and voted each other off until only one remained: the winner. A classic example of the human fascination with competition and the lengths people will go to win. It started in I think the 21st century but went on long enough, on and off, to get the point where humans were beginning to push beyond the limits of their Homeworld (haha). I refer to, of course, the terraforming of Mars.

So in 2451, producers launched (enjoying the pun I hope) the ultimate Survivor, the most expensive Survivor ever, the most daring and, yes, the most deadly. Survivor: Mars. We are somewhat familiar with the next bit of the story. From an eager Earth, sixteen were picked to make up this elite, exciting, daring team whose months on Mars would be captured by the camera crew and change the future of the planet forever.

This is only the very edge of the story. The contestants picked were picked not for their survival or scientific skills but for their strong personalities and- most shockingly- the absence of connections to Earth. You see, this Survivor was going to have a twist; due to budget constraints, only the winner and the runner-up would get the ultimate prize, the ticket home. The Survivors were poor and desperate, convinced to sign on because it was a shot at wealth and fame.

Seems inhumane? Perhaps we could blame it on the nature of the era, but we should remember the violence that broke out in the Olympus suburbs only two years ago. Humans don't change, they only have different circumstances. The Earth was at this time overcrowded, urban, cynical, and desperate for entertainment. And Survivor: Mars offered them more than that, it gave them hope. People were willing to overlook the nitty gritty details of the show to see the windswept grasslands of another world.

Because remember the planet was only half-formed. It was cold and swept by frequent and violent storms, with little flora and even less fauna. It was a harsh environment that was more difficult than anyone really understood. Even the existing civilian colonists (who are also often admitted from this myth) lived in the shelter of the mountains.

I don't really need to tell you many details about the actual show. Only that by the time the show started to be shown to the Earth, the winner and the runner up were already on their way back home and five of the losing contestants were dead from exposure or accidents. All for the sake of entertainment.

I do not wish to undermine the very real heroes the "losing" Survivors were for Mars. We all know that upon the very first episode's release, the ISA received more applications for colonization than it had in its entire history. We know that the crystal clear, artistic images of the Martian skies and the people beneath them "sold" Mars in a way scientific images never had.

But it was a game, a cruel game, and one with a sad ending. How many of the Survivors believed they would be the ones left behind on Mars? How many of them knew they would end up dead? It's not a glorious tale, with valiant hardships.

This is why, when I stood before the Tomb of the Unknown Survivor today, revelation in its paradoxical name, I felt separate from the swarms of jubilant tourists fresh off the buses from Olympus. I felt sad. I felt removed from the bright flags and screens and the merchandising and the overpriced coffee. Is it possible that we have forgotten that the Tomb is in fact a Tomb?

At the same time, I realised something. As much as the reality of the situation of the Survivors wasn't something I want to emulate with my life, I can imagine what it must have been like for them. Stepping for the first time onto a new planet, seeing their first somewhat-familiar Martian animal: doing something.

I realised that I fiercely want to do something of worth, too. I want to... experience things, and do things. I know this is all very common for someone on the brink of graduation. But seeing the Tomb like that brought it all home to me.

Anyway, apologies for waxing poetical. Thanks, hypothetical reader, for listening. Until next hypothetical time.

Your host,