In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

Bronze book at Lt-Col John McRae’s birthplace in Guelph, Ontario

Our oldest daughter went to Normandy with a school trip two years ago, and visited a Canadian cemetery while there. She told us that the number of crosses and markers in the cemeteries is just overwhelming. Standing at the viewpoint, the patterns made by the rows were mesmerizing in their magnitude and symmetry.

It was not until she got to walk between some markers that she really absorbed the fact that each one stood for a person.  As she stood there in a sea of white markers spread around her, contemplating the name on the cross nearest her, she fully understood in a way that no textbook, test, video or parent could have taught her, the cost of war.

800px-Beny-sur-Mer_Cemetery

Beny-sur-Mer Cemetery, Normandy
2049 buried here, 4 British, 1 French, the rest Canadians, all lost in the early stages of the Battle of Normandy, WWII

Lest we forget.

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6 thoughts on “In Flanders Fields

  1. df says:

    It’s truly staggering isn’t it, and I think you’re right that there is no other way to fully get a feel for the magnitude of the numbers lost. We can’t spend enough time on remembering what so many experienced and gave up for us, and I’m grateful to have one son who is truly passionate about learning everything he can from these conflicts, as he keeps pointing us back to them.

    • This year’s focus was on those who served in the Korean conflict, and locally, we were also focussing on First Nations involvement. We have quite a number of Korean vets among the local elders, something I hadn’t known before. We (well, people my age and older) probably have a tendency to associate this day with WWI and WWII, but the truth is that there are many, many people to be remembered from countless conflicts in more recent years as well, and it’s important for youngsters like yours and mine to be aware of that and not let themselves be desensitized by more or less daily news reports.

  2. Bill says:

    We’ve been there too. We had the same reaction as your daughter. There is a striking contrast between the natural beauty and serenity of the place and the reminders of the death and violence which permeate it. Cherie drew a peace sign in the sand on the beach and we watched as the waves started to wash it away.

  3. Steve says:

    A local man that survived D-Day said that “Saving Private Ryan” was the closed thing he as seen that captures the feeling of what it was like to go ashore that day. I make it a point to watch that movie at lest once a year to remember what was given on that day.

    • It is impossible for those of us who have not served in an active theatre to understand what soldiers and other servicepersons have been through. My father, like many of his generation, found himself unable to find the right words to describe what he experienced, and he was in the Navy, a far less gruesome environment than somewhere like Normandy in WWII. Saving Private Ryan is a great movie – I don’t know if I could bring myself to watch in annually.

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