The Color of Memory : Black and White Day Tour of WWI Cemeteries in Belgium
On the trail of yesterday
When one says “Belgium”, a few things tend to come to mind for people: chocolate, waffles, beer, fries, mussels (note: the best way to understanding Belgian culture is via one’s stomach ;-) ), complicated linguistics, lovely, soft-spoken architecture, rain (alas, it’s a fact)...and that’s just a quick list. Not bad for a country the size of New Jersey or Wales!
But there’s more to Belgium, particularly its past. However, not all of that past is particularly merry. For one thing – over the past two centuries – Belgium (including before there was a “Belgium” in the modern sense) has been invaded no fewer than three times and each of those invasions changed the country permanently, leaving reminders that one can see to this day. The second of the three invasions was due to the First World War.
Today, reminders of the Great War are scattered throughout the countryside surrounding the town of Iepers in West Flanders as well as in the town itself (there are over 130 military cemeteries in the area) where various armies stayed entrenched for the length of the war. The various memorials and cemeteries are maintained by the countries for whose dead they were constructed and each one leaves the visitor with a different feeling and a different message. It’s an excellent reminder of how public memory of the past is influenced by the present (or nearer past) and is anything but singular in nature.
Of course, such things are always open to individual interpretation…come see for yourself :-)
Where to find WWI memorials in Belgium
What Is Memory?
- How Memory Works | Visual.ly
Just in case you forgot, our memories are an integral part of our lives and experiences, and enrich our existence. They let us remember “the good ol