In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

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You don’t have to be in Flanders very long before you start to breathe in the history of the area. Horrible things have happened in the fields across Northern France and Belgium, like the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Bulge. These are the kinds of things that hang in the air for centuries; they seep into your blood.

There is a famous poem written by John McCrae that is worth reading. Its also been put to music by my favorite band, Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Take a moment to remember the fallen with us.

// Folklore // The Hardmen

  1. It really is a pity at how the First World War gets so easily forgotten, when it was so fundamental in shaping the modern age. I spent three weeks while teaching High School World History explaining the break in western society that happens at the First World War.

  2. @Mason
    Come to Australia on April 25 – ANZAC Day. You will see that WWI is definitely not forgotten in this part of the world.

  3. I always find it sobering to think what went on in Flanders in WW1 when driving throught that area.

    On a trip back from the TdF in 2009 we stopped by at the Vimy Ridge memorial. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

  4. @Mason

    It really is a pity at how the First World War gets so easily forgotten, when it was so fundamental in shaping the modern age. I spent three weeks while teaching High School World History explaining the break in western society that happens at the First World War.

    Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” is an amazing French film that goes into the whole societal change that occurs at the time of WWI. Just a super film. Also, someone mentioned “All Quiet on the Western Front” which is trully a classic novel in all respects but the old 1930’s film of the same name is also outstanding.

  5. @936adl
    Indeed. I visited Vimy Ridge back in ’99 before a deployment. It’s quite a sobering place. Of course, when driving through northern France and Belgium you can’t throw a stone and not hit a Commonwealth or German cemetery. When I visited the American cemetery at Somme, the director told me an interesting piece of information…at least for US Forces in WWI. WWI American cemeteries are located on the battlefield in which Soldiers fought, where in WWII they were interred in temporary cemeteries then relocated to the large cemeteries that we know today.

    Here is a link to the ABMC web site. http://www.abmc.gov/home.php

  6. Great insight on WWI- It was supposedly the War to End All Wars… Except for all the wars that followed. Unimaginable hardship in that area for centuries. We should all settle our differences like hardmen… On the bike!

  7. @Marcus
    While in university I wrote an article on the ANZAC attempt to take Galliopli. One of the greatest quotes was from a young private, “the futility of it all.”

    WWI’s generation was one of great literary creativity. Maybe that’s why a group like the Velominati can respect as it does? Nes pas?

  8. @El Mateo
    Absolutely!

  9. @wiscot
    Wow. Very powerful.

  10. By the way, I’ve edited the article slightly to be more clear as to what region I was thinking of when I wrote this. Shoddy work, that.

  11. @frank
    That’s a tiny bit better, but if you’re going to the effort of editing your homage to the terrible toll of death in Flanders, surely it wouldn’t be much additional effort to mention as well (or instead) the actual battles that took place there?

    As others have already said, battles such as Ypres, Passchendaele, and the Somme have much more relevance to the area and the poem than Waterloo and the Ardennes campaigns do, and I think mentioning them would show much more respect than those in which blood wasn’t actually spilled in the area you’re writing about!

  12. @jimmy

    Nice one Jimmy.

  13. @Oli
    Its not the effort, but the clarification, really. There’s a difference between correcting a confusing statement and changing the message. If I changed the name of the battles, I feel I’d be taking something away from the great contributions made in the posts. That feels dishonest to me.

  14. @frank
    Lots of people will judge the article, not the comments. It’s not dishonest to own up to a mistake and correct it.

  15. @Oli
    I appreciate the input, but the article says now what I intended to say, and the community is adding the rest; for those people judging the article by the content and not the community, they are missing the point of Velominati. Cheers.

  16. @Oli

    Actually lots of people won’t judge at all.

  17. @Oli

    @frank
    Lots of people will judge the article, not the comments. It’s not dishonest to own up to a mistake and correct it.

    Yeah but that would make all the people who told Frank he was wrong look a bit silly… and Oli I would have thought you would be the last person to diminish the joy of correcting Frank ;-)

  18. whatcha all talking about??

  19. My great-grandfather went with General Pershing down to Mexico to find Pancho Villa, then off to Europe in WWI. He had amazing stories of adventure in Mexico. Not so much in Europe. He didn’t talk about it. His little brother lied about his age to get in the Army and fight. Once in, my great-grandfather went to his superiors to let them know his brother’s real age to keep him out of Europe–for very good reasons. I was an adult when they both died, so I got to know their histories a little bit.

    Also, as a graduate of the University of Texas, I spent a little time at the Winged Victory fountain at the end of the South Mall under the tower. It was dedicated to students and graduates lost in the “Great War”. All of their names are listed in bronze. It’s extraordinary to think the fountain was erected with the belief that we’d just fought in the war to end all wars–that there wouldn’t be another.

  20. @frank
    Fair enough, Frank. Sorry for being so damned dogmatic, but I just can’t help myself.

  21. Dogmatix, Oli? Non!

  22. Wanting to ante up valuable social media etiquette here and leave real comments whenever possible. And that being said, it is at times challenging to disentangle the many dizzying Velominati posts, especially while zoned out on hydrocodon-acetaminophen with a broken clavicle. Frank, Oli, you’re both right-minded and wrong-headed to a certain degree (I guess). And I don’t even know how you two started — what the Fuck!!

  23. @frank

    By “here”, I mean the general area, I’m not intending to state the battles happened in Flanders themselves. The point is there have been some horrible, horrible things that have happened in the area, and the people who died in those battles, wherever they were, were often from Vlaanderen and so forth.

    It touches you in your very spirit. But thanks for the clarification on the specific geographic areas. That stuff is taken understandably seriously around here. The borders between Waloonia and Vlaanderen are more carefully observed than those between Belgium and France!

    Ritte Van Vlaanderen (ritteracing.com) is in that area — it must be !! Right ??

  24. The articles title and introductory sentence indicate the subject as Flanders, the edits help some but the battles chosen as examples remain to confuse the subject. That said, The discussion that has followed is the kind that makes a long boring group ride enjoyable with interesting conversation. Image being knackered as shit in some nasty crosswind and the guy next to you in the echelon telling stories either of themselves or for-fathers surviving war. That would rally some Rule #5.

  25. Myself and the VMH were discussing the lasting legacy of the Great War while at Tyne Cot Cemetary last week. Very few if any survivors are still alive so we wondered how long governments will be willing to incur the cost of maintaining the memorials…and then we remembered that farmers are still ploughing up shells and other remanants of the war. It’s easy to forget that the locals have to live in the shadow of the Great War everyday and that is irrespective of the monumnents.

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