Shangri-La

When I go on vacaction, I’m looking for a place like . . .well, like Shangri-La.  Heck – maybe I’d like to move there.  When I was little,  my father would sing a song that included the term “Shangri-La.”  He would do a lot of humming and then belt out “Shangri-La.”   You hear the term every once in awhile so I thought this might be an interesting post.   

The term “Shangri-La” is a actually fictional location first mentioned in the book Lost Horizon (1933) by British author James Hilton.  The place is described as a mystical paradise – isolated and insulated from the rest of the world.  Everyone in Shangri-La is permanently happy and the people live beyond their lifespans — aging slowly and joyfully.   

Shangri-La is reputed to be situated on the western end of the Kunlun Mountains in China.  Many villages and locales have claimed to be THE Shangri-La but so far there is nothing definitive.  Hilton said he was inspired to invent – and write about – “Shangri-La” after reading articles in National Geographic Magazine about the travels of botanist/ethnologist Joseph Rock.  But Hilton died in 1954 so he’s not talking. 

There are dozens of contemporary references to “Shangri-La.”  President Franklin Roosevelt, who was fond of Hilton’s novel, named the Presidential retreat (now “Camp David”) “Shangri-La” in 1942.  After the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942 (“Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”), when asked where the bombers came from, he quipped “Shangri-La.”  Later in the War, the U.S. Navy launched an aircraft carrier of that name thanks to FDR’s reference.  It would sure be nice if Washington could become a Shangri-La but I wouldn’t count on it. . . .         

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