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Flanders Fields Museum Archives - St. Stephen's University

Life in War…

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

The Flander’s Fields Museum and Tyne Cot Cemetery impacted me so much more than I thought that they would. I have always had a kind of compassion for people in the armed forces; my grandfather was in the Navy in WWII (joining at only 18), and he almost never spoke about his time there. Growing up with this silent subject in my home gave a sense of reverence for the power and weight war has on those in the battle front. So, coming to these memorial sites with this foundation set me up for an emotional experience that I was not expecting. The stories and the gravestones broke my heart.
It would be so incredibly hard to live through a reality that was so horrific and have people back home be unable to understand what it was like out there. No matter how hard you try, you can’t truly understand something that you haven’t experienced. No wonder people have so much trouble coming back home. It would leave you with such a sense of loneliness to be surrounded by people who didn’t know what hardships you had been through.
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While wandering through the cemetery, my eyes were continually welling up with tears as I read the ages of the soldiers who died fighting in the Great War. 19, 20, 19, 22, 21… they were children; young boys who were willing to lay down their lives for their nations. I can’t imagine the state of mind the young people would have had to come to in that place, especially when I think that I and many of my friends are that age ourselves and live in such a different reality.
I can’t put into words all the thoughts that are swimming around in my head.. There are so many situations I can’t understand because I’ve never been in that place of desperation where I’ve had to go beyond the limits of a comfortable life. Although I’ll never be able to completely understand things I’ve never gone through, I think the questions I have are continually opening my eyes to new concepts and perspectives.

Who knows where they”ll take me.

– Moriah

Heroes

By | 2010, Europe | No Comments
We now are in Belgium and have recently been visiting some Word War I sites and memorials. First there was Vimy Ridge in France, which is technically a part of Canada, followed by Ypres, Passchendaele, as well as other sites in  Belgium. I was expecting to be mournful over the soldiers that died, or maybe to feel some nationalistic pride for Canadian achievements in the war, but instead I felt mostly anger.
This angry reaction was not to the war itself, but to the way that the memorials and tour guides portrayed the war. One of our courses on this trip is based around myth and the idea of a hero, a theme that I could sense greatly at these sites.  In my opinion, the mythical hero is what allows war to continue; this myth makes young men and women think that if they go to war that maybe they too will become heroes. This myth masks the reality of a soldier’s role which is ugly and largely full of futility. These dead soldiers are praised and idealized, but should they be?
Dan T.