33 going on 34

The Flanders Sunset, May 2017

Dedicated to my parents on their 35th Wedding Anniversary, their love and devotion to each other has been the foundation stone of my life. In good times and bad.

The photo was taken two years ago at Tyne Cot Cemetery on a beautiful early summer’s evening, it was a balance of light against darkness, the living amongst the dead. This year in particular has brought me closer to my own mortality, visiting the sites of the Western Front has taken on a near spiritual meaning. Having visited the Verdun, Meuse-Argonne, St Mihiel and the Chemin de Dames sectors this year, I like to look back on this particular photo with a certain amount of reflection. It is hard to believe now that those things happened, and that they still continue to happen everyday in parts of the world. My sadness is that these cemeteries, a lesson to us all on how we should treat our fellow man, are slowly being ignored as many countries are being consumed with the horror and carnage of war.

Having started my Masters degree at Wolverhampton University a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t really realised the challenge of it all. But having involved myself in some of the online seminars, it is very interesting to see how people’s opinion vary and their own interpretation to how and why these things happened the way they did. I must admit I found it incredibly interesting, especially in comparing peoples arguments and interpretations of how and why things happened. It has been so far an absolute revelation and it has already opened a lot of doors. That can only be a good thing, I hope so anyway.

This Sunday is my birthday, 33 going on 34. I am going up to the beautiful North Yorkshire coast to Whitby to have a evening of reflection and quiet celebration on Saturday, it is something that I am really looking forward to. I haven’t been to the seaside this year, and i’m looking forward to my Fish and Chips, Ice Cream and doughnut concoction. To see the sunrise on another year can only be a blessing, it is has been a incredible year.

It is hard to believe that Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday is just around the corner. Last November I was in Ypres as a guide for the Centenary for the Armistice, seeing a lone piper piping a lament in Ramparts Cemetery, as St Martin’s Cathedral rang out the victory bells was a moment of reflection unparallelled in my life. Ramparts Cemetery is by far one of the most beautiful cemeteries on the Ypres Salient, it is a cemetery where all of nature’s elements come together. It is a place of reflection and is one of the Jewels in the Salient’s crown, the men who are buried here are so blessed to rest perpetually in a place of such beauty, whilst some of their fellow countrymen still lie unknown in the fields beyond. It is has to be stressed however that there are also unknown Soldiers buried in this special place.

Ramparts Cemetery May 2017

Situated next to the Lille Gate, incorporated into Vauban’s Ramparts which surround the town of Ypres and a few hundred yards away from the place that was once called Shrapnel Corner, it is next to the road where many Allied soldiers marched towards the southern end of the dreaded Salient, places such as St Eloi, the Bluff, Messines. There are only 197 soldiers buried there in comparison to the thousands at Tyne Cot, but it’s significance is just the same and it is still extremely important. I personally said in prayer to these brave warriors, these individuals, some with names, some forever lost in time, Laurence Binyon’s epitaph to the fallen, repeated every evening with reverence underneath the Menin Gate.

“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.”

“We will remember them”

We should remember them, it is absolute ignorance to forget them.

And the Earth abideth forever

Martin Joseph

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