This past summer, I visited WWI and WWII memorial sites in France and Belgium. It was a very moving experience to read about the trials that each soldier went through on a daily basis. Living in the trenches, above and below ground, was not very pleasant. Seeing the display of gas masks that soldiers used to protect themselves from mustard and other gasses was very haunting. And seeing the rows and rows of headstones in all the graves, and thinking about everything they gave up for us. Visiting them was the least I could do. I will be at a cenotaph this Friday as well, remembering those brave souls.
I wrote a few articles about the memorials as I travelled in France and Belgium and I thought I’d repost the links to them here for you to read.
On part of my trip I visited the Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley in France. This famous castle spans the Cher River. During WWII, one side was on the allied side and the other on the German occupied territory. The owners of the castle would help the French underground send people across from one side to the other, risking the castle. I had read that the German soldiers had guns aimed at the castle and if the word was given, the castle would have been destroyed. I’m glad the order was never given. If you have a chance to visit the Loire Valley, visit Chenonceau castle. It is very beautiful. Maybe you would like to raise a glass of Loire Valley wine, a Vouvray or other Chenin Blanc on November 11 and toast our fallen soldiers, and those people who helped them, and those that survived. Lest we forget.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
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.