Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

In my life I have been lucky to live in Europe for 10 years.  While there, I have seen things that most of us have only heard about or read in a school book.  I have seen history in the making, as I lived in Berlin for the fall of the Iron Curtain.  I have traveled to many cities while there, but the one that I remember the most is Brussels.  

While in Brussels, I went to many monuments and museums.  Walking the normal city streets is a history lesson itself.  The most memorable of the monuments were the cemeteries.  I never knew so many of our men had died.  More than I could even imagine.  When you are given numbers of the dead in books, on the news, etc.,sometimes we say ,Wow, that's so many.  Then when you see it in front of you, it is overwhelming.  I have been to many cemeteries, both military and civilian.  I have never seen so many crosses.

In Belgium, and the surrounding borders, there are many monuments and cemeteries that are American.  The Belgium people tend the graves of a chosen soldier.  This is a lifetime commitment of their family.  The graves are well tended.  School children go to the cemeteries as classes.  They learn about the history of the wars.  It is truly overwhelming to see how tender and loving they are with the dead, of whom they do not know.

When I went to the memorials, it was as though I was at peace.  That is the only way I can phrase it.  It is peaceful there, among all of our men who took up the fight for us.  Many people would talk to us, asking where we were from, if we had any loved one there.  Many of the Belgium people have found families of the graves they tend.  They would share with us about the soldier.  It was a wonderful experience.

I have seen Flanders.  The poppies.  I have walked in the trenches that still exist.  The same trenches that our men sought refuge in. Died in.

While re-reading some of the history about Flanders Field, I have found videos of some of the memorials in Belgium.  I couldn't figure out how to link it here, so here is the website:

Many of the men in my family were in the military.  I was lucky, as I never lost any of them in war.  My father and his brothers were in Korea.  My ex-husband was in the 'cold war', behind the Iron Curtain.  I have lost friends in the more recent military battles.  I hope to never lose any more.

I will end with the poem that most of us think about today, Flanders Field.

Remember them today and every day.


1 comment:

  1. Deb, I love "Flanders Fields," and "I have a rendezvous with death," all the poems that have come out of our wars. Your writing about visiting the cemeteries in Europe is very moving. It's hard to express one's feelings about war, about all the people who have died in them.

    The only close family I've had who served were uncles, and although none died in war, they were all scarred in some way by the experience. The oldest of these was in a prison camp for a long time; we thought he was dead, and it was very grievous for the family, and a very long and difficult time when he was released and sent home.

    Thank you for this blog. It was very fitting for Memorial Day.