Memorial Day Is No Picnic

Soldiers who survived the realities of battle hopelessly watched as trench feet consumed their extremities, while shattered and lifeless trees, symbolic of many soldier’s fate, stoically presented themselves in the wide expanses of impersonal mud fields whose streams of oozing blood led to the web which forever captured its prey for eternity.

Cold weather only accented the fields’ horror, but as warm weather approached, the vast numbers of disturbed poppy seeds lying just beneath the ground began to germinate. That was 100 years ago: World War I, Flanders Field, Belgium. (Please read Michael: The Lady in Red, posted May 25, 2012).

Fallen UK soldiers from World War I are interred in Belgium's Tyne Cot Cemetery. It is the largest cemetery for the Commonwealth's forces in the world – for any war: 11,194 tombstones; of which only 3,587 are named.

Since then, the inscribed names and ranks of fallen soldiers have succumbed to Mother Nature’s toll on the once-pristine lineup of respectful tombstones. So, in order to prepare for the commemoration of the war to end all wars the quiet still of this sacred ground is being disturbed, once again.

Although old soldiers will never die, we will not permit them to fade away – not by time, nor Mother Nature. Dirt, chips or weather-worn, these ivory monuments are being cleaned, repaired, or replaced in order to restore the sharp dignity of the eternal soldier.

Between 2014 and 2018, hundreds of thousands of visitors will safely walk the fields to share their gratitude, and witness the restored rows of sacrifice and solemnity.

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