Thursday, July 23, 2015


I knew that while I was in Belgium I should take some time to see some of the World War I battle sites. I had a day to go to Ypres and thought maybe I'd be able to do a tour of Vimy Ridge (nope, that's a full day trip leaving around 9am) so I spent the time wandering around the city and seeing churches, Flanders Field Museum, and attending the evening memorial ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Naturally it was a sad and depressing day. There was so much death and destruction in that War and it was quite moving to go through the Museum and learn about it in detail. But it was the Menin Gate that really struck a chord. The Gate is a Memorial to all the Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were either never found our given a proper burial. Their names are individually inscribed on the walls and there are over 50,000 names.

Every evening there is a military remembrance where a prayer is said and wreaths are laid. The name of one soldier is inscribed on the Gate is read out and the speaker gives a biography of the soldier -- where he was from, his regiment, what battles he fought in, and the battle that led to his death. From what I understand ever since 1928 this ceremony has occurred every single day. They would not have made it through all the names yet.

There was a contingent from the Canadian Legion attending the ceremony. While they were walking to the Gate one of them, who happened to be from Saskatchewan, saw the Roughriders cap that I was wearing and came over and gave me a Canadian flag pin, which I put on my cap. I still have it on my cap. I think I will keep it there.

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