Ask anyone who knows about the first world war where Wipers is. And they will most probably smile and tell you Ypres it was the old Tommys name for it. Though a small town in Belgium, it was to become the most important area of WW1. And was to see three great surges of battles in WW1. And was held successfully by the men who held a deep and abideing affection for the town, and its people. To stand in Ypres Gross Market today, and to look around you, you would think it a medieval town, that had stood there, without suffering the ravages of time. Its a testiment to the people, who moved back after the war, and rebuilt it brick by brick to resemble how it had been, before being almost totally flattend by shelling, bombs both explosive and insenduary. And whatever else the enemy could throw at the place. It stand today as a shineing triumph of a peoples unbreakable spirit. It remembers, and watches over those that fell within her walls, and The menon gate holds a service of rememberence every night for the fallen. A very moving thing it is too, with many being moved to tears, at the awesome loss of life. Indeed throughout the Belgium countryside, can be found many cemetarys. Holding the dead within their peaceful preserves. The atmosphere in one of these places has to be experienced. The peaceful serenity is almost eerie. Its as if nature has made a pact with the dead that their rest will never be disturbed ever again. That silence, after all the noise of battle was their due. Tyne Cot is the biggest, and is staggering to look upon. Every single white marker was once a living, breathing human being. Filled with dreams, hopes and aspirations. That ended brutally, and abruptly. I believe it is a good thing now, that school children are brought to see the cemetarys. Told the storys and remember their relatives. I myself, honor a fallen Great Uncle, who is buried just over the border, in Chappelle de Armantiers. I take tributes for those who can not go, because I believe that this is what we must do to remember their lives and sacrifices. I love Ypres deeply, and am blessed to have some lovely flemish friends. Ill keep going for as long as I can. And leaving tributes. War wasnt glorious, it was bloody, dirty and lethal.  I am a pacifist, but I believe that we must never repeat the mistakes of our forefathers, and we need to get this message across to a younger generation. These fallen deserve to be remembered, honored even, because through their sacrifice the world was shaped to be that little bit more noble. Dear old WIPERS teaches us one important lesson, that a pheonix can rise from the ashes of tragic circumstances. Just as the society of my grandmother and great grandmothers were changed, by the loss of so many young men. Although it took another war to hammer home the message, it still remains that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when needed. And peace comes with a price tag that can often be far too expensive to pay.

 

 

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