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"In Flanders fields the poppies blow...


Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. " - Canadian John McCrae, 1915 On this Veteran's Day in the US, are hearts of full of gratitude and we are humbled by the sacrifice so many have made. Rembererance is ever present here in Europe, where many battles and wars have been waged over the years. You can hardly enter a town or village where there isn't a monument or graveyard, honoring the many who have lost their lives.

As a college student studying history, I was fascinated by these wars and their stories; there was almost a romanticism assiociated with them. I remember coming to Paris for the first time and being almost starstruck by Napolean's tomb. I was standing right where this great man was laid to rest! As a mother and a more seasoned citizen of the world, my heart is more easily broken. These millions of young men had mothers, wives and children of their own. Many were so young and trying to be so brave. I can NOT imagine offering up my own son as a sacrifice for my country?? Uggh.. these dictators and ideologies that called for the killing of so many. And my beloved Napolean? He is SO on my naughty list. He waged this and that war and blew up this monestary or that castle just to show his power. Not cool, dude, Not cool. SO.. in Europe, where most of the World Wars were actually fought, there are countless battlefields, cemeterys and monuments. I think we in the US know a lot about WWII and D-Day. But WWI was the original "war to end all wars" and hundreds of thousands, even millions lost thier lives.. many battles here in Belgium and neighboring France. The original "Rememberance Day" was set to be celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, signifying the end of that great war. The poppy still is a symbol for veterens in the United Kingdom and all that fought with them (Canada, Egypt, Austrailia, etc..). After WWII, the US gradually came to celebrate "Veterans Day" that covers all the veterans of war, but here, Armistice Day or Rememberance Day has kept the original theme. I knew about the poppies and was eager to attend one of the worst battle fields of WWI, Ypres, Belgium. It was the "Western Front" that the British and allies fortified for 3 long years. It was a special day to be in Ypres, at the Tyne Cot Cemetery and visiting the Flanders Field Museum and I'm so thankful we were able to experience it with the kids.

Ypres at the end of WWI. Churchill felt strongly that the city should remain destroyed as a memorial to the lives lost, but the citizens vowed to rebuild.

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