Good Day Belgium! Today was a jam packed tour through some of the major fields, monuments, cemeteries, and memorials of Belgium. A good sleep, and a delicious breakfast from last night’s excitement put us right back at the heart of World War I sights. We began in a Cemetery where we learned about the basics of graveyard lay outs, symbols, and headstone positioning. We ended the tour with the American memorial, which was surreal.
Our Tour guide was really just an A+ guide. He was extremely well versed in his history, and made the experience an exciting endeavor. So many things happened today that the 6 of us could not possibly tell it all in one sitting. However, one of the most surreal moments for me was visiting the largest British cemetery in the world…yes the WORLD. Thousands of head stones, thousands of men, thousands of lives that were lost.
Walking among the fallen had instilled a sense of amazement in this traveler. Seeing the ages of some of these men…some of them are my age, and some where even younger–their whole lives ahead of them. It was extremely humbling. Today’s trip taught me that learning about WWI in an American classroom, and learning about WWI on its battlefield are completely different.
Of course you would think that is an automatic assumption but, walking the fields, the caved in trenches, the mines, the bunkers…the hum of the loss…the blood soaked grass..it is indescribable. This was the war that was supposed to end all wars, and it did quite the opposite. Today’s experience though grounding and eye opening as it was, was also a priceless learning experience.
The guide was so skilled, that he could paint a picture in my mind’s eye and make me see the battles as they were happening. The Christmas Truce, the grenades and TNT blowing up German mines, the innocent, the injured, the young and the younger…it was all right in front of us, and the feeling was incredible. The only way to truly understand, is if you see it yourself.
Today was a day we will not soon forget. An experience to last a lifetime. Enjoy a few of the many pictures captured today!
–The GCU Traveling Crew