18 September 2009

Where the poppies grow

One of the two placards outside of the In Flanders Fields museum, noting the cities that were flattened in the World Wars. The other placard lists cities that have been affected by one of the 166 armed conflict since "the war to end all wars".
The Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery of WWI, with 11,954 buried here.
Most of the Furman group at the Hill 62 Trench Museum. Unlike most farmers who returned to their land, the owner of this property, finding it strewn with trenches and artillery paraphernalia, preserved what he found. Thus, apart from the effects of the visiting traffic, we were able to see trenches as close to their real state at the end of the war as possible.
Another view within the trench, including a dug out.

Much could be said about our visit in and around Ypres, an important locus for WWI, but perhaps the best conclusion I can offer is that our time there and particularly our visit to the In Flanders Fields museum shook me of any romantic notion glorifying WWI. Seeing the gas masks, hearing the incessant and concussion-inducing sounds of the trenches, and visiting mass graves confirmed the inherent evils of war and the extreme courage of those that fought. One understands why Europeans wisely shy away from war and conflict upon beholding the widespread ravages of the World Wars. All in all, an incredibly important visit for me.

1 comment:

  1. Dave, thanks for the perspective. I remember being overwhelmed when in Budapest a few years back. The city still bares the scars of its revolution. I can barely wrap my mind around what it would look like to see blast holes in the city walls of Oklahoma City. We have no idea what war truly looks like here in the states.

    On a slightly different note: As for the question concerning whether or not "The Great War" was truly the war to end all wars, the debate is getting quite heated. Both sides may have to fight it out in order to put the matter to rest.