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.
– Lt. Col. John McCrae
Although I am back in Paris, I am continuing with catch-up posting so this post brings me back to Belgium with my family where we went to Ypres and drove around and saw the battlefields and cemeteries of World War I. Ypres was destroyed during the war but has been rebuilt:
The first stop we made was to a small British cemetery:
Even though almost a hundred years have pasted, people continue to leave notes and the poppies. The photo below was of one of the youngest soldiers to die, aged 15:
There are guest books you can sign at the cemeteries and you see people writing in memory of our great grandfather. The next stop of the day was a German cemetery, which was much more somberly designed:
Because may of the dead were unidentifiable, (See: the large planted area in the foreground of the above photo) they were buried in mass graves. This statue intrigued me (I don’t know who the men are or why they are there):
It is odd to drive around this area of Belgium and think that it was once a war zone because today there are wide open fields with cows grazing (as it was before the war I suppose). The next stop was the largest British cemetery, Tyne Cot (some of the names on the graves here are starting to fade):
My uncle had read about a farmer who returned to his land after the war and decided to preserve the trenches (his neighbors must of thought he was weird). But as it turns out crazy decisions can be very profitable in retrospect because his family now runs a museum, Hill 62, (ok the museum is full of interesting artifacts but could really use some organizing) but it is worth it to see what the trenches were like:
The bomb holes are still visible:
And I think that the wild cats running around the property explain what I meant about the museum:
We returned to Ypres that evening to watch the last guard call at the Menin Gate at 8 p.m. As it turns out people from all over the world sign up to carry the flags and perform this touching ceremony:
It is a rainy day in Paris. Hope it is sunny wherever you may find yourself.