8 April 2017
It would be hard to choose the most brutal war, the most dehumanizing war, the most wasteful war. Perhaps Belgium should have the right to declare it. The Great War, World War Two, the Napoleonic wars, were savagely acted out on its flat, soggy soil. The farmland over which I watch the dairy cows graze, the white cherry trees blossom, and the plethora of blooming flowers is known as the Battleground of Europe. This idyll is deceiving.
“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”
Every town and village has a monument. Enter a battlefield area, a killing zone, you will find cemetery after cemetery: here the Commonwealth, there a Canadian, around the corner graves of Australians, two miles on silent stones bear witness to the slaughter of Germans, South Africans, Americans, New Zealanders who came here from Gallipoli, Czechoslovakians, Polish, and Belgian. “The War to end all wars” ultimately would involve five continents and thirty-two countries, each loosing thousands of lives. “In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row….” (more…)