In honour of Remembrance Day this week, this is a photo I took at the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, near Flanders Fields.
Visiting memorials for World War I in France and Belgium gave me an entirely new perspective on war. It is one thing to be sending your soldiers away to fight in another country; it is completely different to be the country whose soil is being fought upon.
The maintenance and upkeep of Tyne Cot was incredible. As we wandered through the rows and rows of graves, a man sat, re-etching fading names into stone to preserve the epitaphs. Many tombs were unnamed. Many were Canadian.
That my brain cannot comprehend that a war was fought on a field just to the right of Tyne Cot shows how important the sacrifice of those soldiers was – that I’ve never even come close to experiencing that horror is evidence of the privilege bestowed on myself and my generation because they fought for my freedom. I visited many World War I sites and felt the same level of incomprehension and sadness – Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Flanders, Passchendaele…they are experiences in my life that I find indescribable. My brother, who has visited several World War II sites, expresses similar feelings. I can only say, these are sacred sites that need to be visited to be understood, and for we ourselves to understand the levels of privilege we have today, and what our ancestors gave up so such things, like a travel blog on WordPress, could be within my reach today.