There should be a time in every man’s life where he takes a step in the direction of reflection. Why? We are walking this planet… blessed with living our cushy lives, because our forefathers often made difficult, life changing choices.
I’ll ask of you to slip your political (and/or ideological) persuasions into your pocket… for as long as it takes to stand back and thank your fathers and grandfathers… yes, thank them for showing the willingness to die for a cause. The cause at that time… the freedom of Europe… and by extension… the way we’ve moulded and shaped the fabric of our free western life.
I hasten to add… this post is written by a capitalist thinking, euro-centric, lover of freedom and the rewards of living on a continent where many of our forefathers bled and died so we can reflect and wonder… about their sacrifice!
Today is a day so special to so many! I’ll never forget my one and only visit to the Somme battlefields. I will never forget sitting in the visitor’s centre at Thiepval. I will never forget the sound our footsteps made as we trudged along the long lines of graves at Delville Wood Cemetery.
I’ll never forget my feelings of despair… the gratitude I felt toward those folk who died in that hallowed place, all those years ago. Delville Wood has a more than special meaning for many South Africans. It’s a place of reverence… a place we visit to show respect for the sacrifice of our forefathers. Delville Wood was given to the people of South Africa by the French people… as a mark of appreciation for the blood that stained the French soil, particularly in this place once called Devil’s Wood…
I quote a paragraph from the official Delville Wood web-site… it more than explains why we treat the wood with such reverence!
Between 15th and 20th July 1916, the Brigade consisting of 3153 men, having entered Delville Wood, a tactically important salient protruding into the German second line, was subjected to an onslaught of such unrelenting and unmitigated violence that the wood itself disappeared, shattered and sundered by the ferocity and intensity of the artillery bombardments of friend and foe alike. Having expended their ammunition, the men resorted to hand to hand combat. When the Brigade was relieved, a mere 142 souls emerged from the shambles. Eventually 780 men of the Brigade assembled ; 1709 had been wounded and 763 killed (457 killed in action, 120 died of wounds and 186 missing in action, their deaths assumed).
I dream of returning to the Somme again one day… to show my lads where their ancestors, both South African and British, died so we could live in peace… even if the times are difficult they are still so infinitely better now.
I salute you! I promise to do my bit to remind the world of your sacrifice!
Lest we never forget!
There is much more to say… I will on the odd occasion mention bits again. This history is still so raw… so pertinent… so in need or remembering! I wish you God’s speed while you reflect…