Once upon a time, in a far away land… actually, to be more specific, about 100 years ago, in a city called Sarajevo there began what became to be known as The Great War. May it be shouted from the mountains for all to hear: this is no fairy tale.
As my feet stumble across uneven, cratered ground–the unknown burial place of thousands of young men sent off to battle–the reality of World War I grasps my heart and my imagination. WWI will never be a stark, hellish, reality for my generation of the 21st century as it was for our great grandparents, but as I stood in the trenches of Vimy Ridge (though dry and absent of rapid gun fire) I felt I was taking part in history; sharing in a little bit of the reality which once was. As I descended to the tunnel where thousands of soldiers lined up in the blackest blackness, waiting for the command to attack, that same blackest blackness struck fear in me. The same coldness of the damp air against my skin and in my heart, though only for brief seconds, created a connection, a small bit more of an understanding that would not have been their otherwise. Then my eyes laid upon a name, a single name among thousands, carefully engraved into the white stone of Vimy Ridge: S. Zuidema. There ended the names of 11, 285 soldiers whose graves are known only to God.