Sunday, November 11, 2018

Poppies and Cornflowers...

One hundred years after the end of the First World War, this landmark date does seem to send a different type of evocative light and perspective onto this huge chapter in history. The blinding tragedy of the years of the Great War and their aftermath still send out the long, chilling shadow of the Lost Generation.

Most landscapes continue to bear scars, cruel pits and pock-marks that date back to this era of violence and devastation unleashed in an unprecedented manner.

Lest we forget - Photo from Canterbury mainstreet
Reims was to become the symbol of martyred France from the outset of the hostilities and its cathedral was one of the greatest victims. Today's commemoration to mark the 11th Hour drew in the crowds but there were no former combat soldiers present - les poilus. 

Lest we forget - Photo from Canterbury mainstreet
The passing of the decades gradually swept them away before the end of the 20th century, just as the tides have washed away the portraits of the soldiers from the sands today around Britain's coast.

This passage of time means that for younger generations, the Great War really is an historic event that cannot be a point of reference for them in the same way that it and WWII were. They truly belong to another century now and are beyond all living memory. That does not mean that the door has closed on this chapter, nor ever would, but our landmarks have readjusted slightly.

Yesterday I saw the commemorations set up in Canterbury - the English town twinned with Reims. It was beautiful. Whereas the Red Poppy is the symbolic flower of the 'War to end all wars', in France it is le bleuet. 

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