REMEMBERING LOST FUTURES

CANADIAN FLAGS ON A GRAVE AT ESSEX FARM CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM

CANADIAN FLAGS ON A GRAVE AT ESSEX FARM CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM

On Remembrance Day, the day we commemorate the end of the First World War 96 years ago, we wear poppies and attend solemn ceremonies. Ageing veterans, medals shining, march stiff-legged in the early winter cold. The last post. Two minutes of silence to remember those who didn’t come home.

I recently travelled through north-eastern France and western Belgium visiting some of the battlefields, monuments and cemeteries of the Great War.

Essex Farm Cemetery just north of Ypres, Belgium is where Dr. John McCrae penned his iconic poem “In Flanders Fields”. The concrete bunkers where he tended the wounded emote a palpable sadness. A few metres away lies the grave of the youngest soldier to die in the war, a 15-year-old. I shed tears for him, mourning for the future he didn’t have.

And that is the overwhelming feeling I’m left with after a six-day visit. So many young men and women who didn’t have a future, who were denied love, family and the joys of living. And all of us have been denied their creativity, their energy, their joy, their goodness. We can’t know what they would have become, what they could have achieved, how they might have changed the world.

That is the shame of that long-ago, senseless war, and of all wars.

VISITORS AT THE MENIN GATE CEREMONY, YPRES, BELGIUM

VISITORS AT THE MENIN GATE CEREMONY, YPRES, BELGIUM

THE VIMY RIDGE MEMORIAL, VIMY, FRANCE

THE VIMY RIDGE MEMORIAL, VIMY, FRANCE

TREE TRUNK WITH MEMORIAL CROSSES AND POPPIES, SANCTUARY WOOD TRENCH MUSEUM, NEAR YPRES, BELGIUM

TREE TRUNK WITH MEMORIAL CROSSES AND POPPIES, SANCTUARY WOOD TRENCH MUSEUM, NEAR YPRES, BELGIUM

SEARCHING FOR THE NAME OF A FALLEN SOLDIER, TYNE COT CEMETERY, NEAR YPRES, BELGIUM

SEARCHING FOR THE NAME OF A FALLEN SOLDIER, TYNE COT CEMETERY, NEAR YPRES, BELGIUM

Advertisements

One thought on “REMEMBERING LOST FUTURES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: