memorial 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.
— ———————
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

An Olive Tree Grows in Florence

By | 2011, Europe | No Comments

Recently on a side street in Florence my attention was caught by a memorial in the form of an olive tree. The tree stood beside a building which was the site of a bombing in 1993. The plaque at the base of the tree describes how the olive tree was specifically chosen because it symbolizes holiness, good values, generosity and regeneration. Those who erected the memorial in 2004 had a vision to bring healing, a goal very evident in the tree they chose to embody their cause.

This restoration mentality is also evident in the building itself. It has been rebuilt, with a deep obvious scar dividing old and new brickwork. I think the fact that the people chose to keep the damaged part of the building speaks volumes. By choosing to meld the old and new, two pieces incomplete on their own, the people created something new, something whole.

Lessons we can glean from this memorial and the olive tree include the decision to move toward peace rather than seeking revenge. Those who chose the olive tree (and all it represents) as the memorial, chose to remember the past, while choosing a peaceful approach. Passersby are caught by the tree, drawn to read about it, look up at the building scarred from the bombs. These people then walk on, a small seed of reconciliation over revenge planted in their minds.

It helped me to reflect on how I could approach situations of difficulty and difference with an attitude of regeneration, providing healing and hope for relationships and peace.