Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest we forget

November 11th marks the end of the first World War, and is a holiday in Belgium.

While other countries might celebrate Remembrance Day as a day of glorious victory, in Belgium, and especially in West-Flanders, stories about the horrors of the war, the gas, the trenches and the shell-shock capture most attention.

In Ieper (Ypres), every single day at 8pm, the war is remember by "the last post" at the Menin Gate.

My father was born and raised in Ieper, and often brought the complete demolition of his beloved hometown to my attention. This is all that was left of the city after the war:

For those of you that are interested, I highly recommend the "In Flanders Fields" museum. It's been a while since I visited, but while preparing for the commemoration years 2014 - 2018, the museum has been given a large update.

And if you wondered about the title of the museum, it's taken from the poem by John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Almost a hundred years later, and peace is still a faraway dream. Here's the map of the current armed conflicts in our world:

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