Are our military cemeteries from God forgotten places?
The photos, I call them snapshots, which I took of the various military cemeteries were taken in the summer and autumn of 2012.
You can find them on the part of the website where I describe the 21 Belgian military cemeteries. Include also the picture of the Belgian military cemetery at Calais Nord in France. That picture dates from April 2013.
In none of these pictures is one living, warm-blooded human being. During that time I never had to wait until I was alone in a cemetery to take such a picture. I was always alone.
Of the few contacts and conversations I've had, three in total, you will find a description under the heading features, statistics and graphs. One such contact was with the people of the Institute of War Veterans, Wargrave division, on duty in Halen. They were there in a professional capacity.
I have often wondered why our war dead from both World Wars, get so little attention from our population. They do not deserve to be forgotten, for they have through their efforts and by bringing the sacrifice of their lives, ensured that we can live in a safer world now. The lack of attention is also somewhat due to the fact that most of those soldiers died in the prime of their youth. Most of them had no children, which in turn doesn’t provide for grandchildren, etc...
One can only hope, but not expect, that visits to the tombstones of young, unmarried, and therefore childless soldiers, will be taken in charge by the later generations of nephews, cousins, etc..., until a hundred years after the death of the hero concerned. Nevertheless, if I had known earlier...
I am a second cousin of Pieter-Jan Van der Straeten, killed in action in Pervijze in December 1915, buried in grave 126 at Adinkerke military cemetery. When I was told of my family relationship with Pieter-Jan in 2012, I could not believe my ears. My father was only seven years younger than Pieter-Jan and his name and status has never been mentioned in our family. In fact, none of my now surviving cousins knew of the heroism of Pieter-Jan.
So I took it upon myself to denounce this situation, and this website is also a demand for attention to our fallen soldiers.
And that attention I got already. When in early July I had finished the Dutch section of this website and announced its startup in an email to the more than 350 historic societies of Flanders, within the hour I got a message from Rosette Dillen, Chairman of the historic society "Norbert the Vrijter" from Lille in Antwerp county.
"I can tell you that we, with our historic society, will visit the Belgian frontline of The Great War in September and visit also the graves of our fellow villagers (De Panne, Adinkerke, Westvleteren, Hoogstade). We will bring a floral tribute to our heroes and have a clarion blow 'The Last Post'. We found out during our search in connection with our next yearbook that these people deserve a little more of our time, a little more attention and a lot more respect. "
Regretfully, the planned visit by the historic society came on an inconvenient date for me. I would have been so happy to be present at the military cemetery in Adinkerke, listen to "The Last Post", but on September 6, I had other commitments.
Therefore I was really pleased, when I received the visit report of the president on September 18 and learned that the journey was a formidable succes. Thank you, madam Chairman.
It is therefore that, and with great pleasure, we make room for the report on our website.
Do you have a similar experience? Let us know. Are you considering such a day trip? Please let us know. We may not be able to give a place to all your reactions, but we do our best.
Are you looking for missing casualties from your town or city? Probably we can help. Finally, we do have more than 20,600 photos of their graves.