Monday, 12 March 2018

In Flanders Fields…

The day started off with a very informative walkthrough of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele. Time did not allow us to read and take in all of the history that was displayed there. Students had opportunities to go through simulated displays of life in the trenches, view weapons used in WWI, and examine various artifacts of the war. Some of us took the opportunity to climb the nearby bell tower, only to have the bell ring right in our ears when we got to the top.

At the British Commonwealth Cemetery, the largest in the world, we took time to reflect by listening to two students recite the poems “In Flanders Fields” and “Dulce et Decorum Est.” We were also moved by the singing of “10000 Reasons”. Our time to pay respect to the fallen soldiers was cut short by an approaching rainstorm.

For lunch, we travelled to the iconic walled town of Ypres, the site of four major WWI battles which essentially flattened the town. Ypres was reconstructed after the war and built as an exact replica of its previous self.   From there it was back on the bus to pay brief visits to the memorial sites at Essex Farm, St Julian, Langemark and Hill 62.

After supper, with the cold wind and rain lashing against our cheeks, we were privileged to witness the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.  Hearing the sounds of four bugles reverberating throughout the walls and ceiling of the memorial structure was a meaningful experience for us all.  The walls of this building are etched with the names of thousands of soldiers who died in the region and whose bodies where never recovered.

On the return trip to our hotel we enjoyed some impromptu open mike singing.  The melodies of everything from Jesus Loves Me and Edelweiss to Country Road drifted through the bus.

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