Sunday, 27 March 2016

A 30,262nd act of remembrance

20:00 CEST; 27th March 2016 – Ieper, Belgium.  For the 30,262nd time a remarkable act took place, as it has done at 8pm every night since 2nd July 1928.

The buglers from the volunteer fire brigade take their place under the arch of the Menin Gate and sound the last post as an act of remembrance for those killed in the First World War.

It’s a simple act, but one which has run for so long that it’s taken on its own importance.

From 6th May 1940 until 5th September 1944 the ceremony was moved to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey as the occupying Nazi’s stopped it from taking place in Ypres.  But on the evening of 6th September 1944, with Polish troops still fighting in parts of the town securing its liberation the ceremony restarted underneath the gate.

With this knowledge it’s impossible but to be incredibly moved by this simple ceremony and the importance if you are in Ieper of coming along to watch.

Looking round the crowds that gathered every night I have been in Ieper there are many faces familiar from Breakfast in the hotel as well as countless others, all coming to pay their respects.

And perhaps the most moving part of the ceremony is that only a few words are spoken, but with them the enormity of loss becomes all the clearer, and it’s difficult to see an eye that isn’t welling up slightly.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

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