While the monument itself is an amazing and inspiring thing, war is not. At Vimy we were able to walk down into the tunnels under the trenches, and I shivered to think about all those young men who waited in silence in the dark for many hours, knowing that at 5:30 am on April 9th, they would be expected to run up the tunnels to the German front and bayonet anyone they found alive after a two day shelling, and possibly be killed themselves.
After a couple of hours in the museum's gloomy atmosphere, where so much destruction and loss was made evident, one of my daughters said she'd had enough. I wondered at the war video games our youth play and whether they'd be so popular if the kids had any sense of the reality of war. Pictures of the beautiful buildings in Ypres' town square ablaze and reduced to rubble made me wonder how we can bear to sit still as the same kinds of things happen in Palestine, Syria, Central Africa, and other war torn places around the world. When will human beings learn that militaristic power and fear don't bring about the kind of necessary change that compassion can?
|A field of unknown soldiers|