For years we have been reading about Flanders Field, The battle of Ypres and of the heroic spirit and courage of the WW1 soldiers.
Today, as the bus rolled off the ferry, into France and into Belguim, we were given a history lesson, a life lesson like no other.
The Flanders Field Museum was breathtaking. Everything from the architecture to the interactive boards and models, gave us an insight into the personal experiences, sorrows and achievements of soldiers; giving an identity to the narratives of war we’ve read about in textbooks.
Personally, the story of the Christmas Truce, December 1914, when after hours of bloodshed and violence, soldier’s downed their weaponry and shared a cigarette and song, joining as one through the melody of “silent night.”
The museum showed the violence and horror, but the love. Love is fundamental to the making of war. The love of your country, the love of your men, the love of family, and (unfortunately so) only at Christmas time, was a love of all humanity.
My words feel so inadequate in trying to project to you the emotional experience of the “Menin Gate” was for us all.
Every night, every single night since the war, they have held a service to remember.
So I will finish with the words of John McCrae:
“In Flanders Field” and say “If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow, In Flanders Field.
- Last survivor of “Christmas Truce” – Alfred Anderson – The Guardian UK