August 9, 2016

Echoes Across Flanders Fields: Gent-Wevelgem

Every evening at precisely eight o’clock, the citizens of the Flemish city of Ieper, along with tourists and visitors, gather at the Menin Gate on the city’s edge to hear the sounding of the Last Post by the local fire brigade.  The name derives from the practice of inspecting all the sentry posts around a military camp at the end of the day, and playing a call at each of them.  This ritual has been performed since 1928 to commemorate those soldiers of the British Army who died in the Ypres Salient during the First World War before August 16, 1917 and who have no known grave.  The memorial’s location is especially poignant as it lies on the eastward route from the city which allied soldiers marched towards battle.  Those who never returned are ensured their deaths were not in vain.  Synonymous with the war, the Flemish fields and the ritual of the Last Post are poppies, whose inexplicable abundance during the atrocities of war has become the honorary symbol of Remembrance Day.  The flower was also the poignant influence for “In Flanders Fields”, one of the most notable poems written during World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3, 1915 after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the previous day.  The month of April each year from 1915-18 was quite different from the month of April that is now so highly anticipated and labeled the Vlaamse Wielerlente, the Flemish Spring Classics. Read More



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