The Never Ending Memorial Day

Imagine having Memorial Day every day?  In the small town of Ypres, Belgium, for over 80 years, the local townsfolk gather every night, 365 days a year, at the medieval town entrance called the Menin Gate. This is not  a religious gathering,but more of a pilgrimage. For at this town towards the end of WWI over 500,000 men died in battle. This town was part of the Western front during WWI and the German Army figured this to be a weak part of that front. The battle, (actually there were three battles) area covered some 20 square miles and most of the fighting was in trenches. The heavy use of mustard gas was one of the major weapons used.This lovely quiet town located in NW Belgium soon had the title “City of the Dead”. The word Ypres means “leper’ in Flemish. (But that is another story) At the end of WWI, the horrible numbers of lives lost started coming out. 8,556,315 troops were killed from all countries involved in WWI. 21,219,452 were wounded, 7,750,945 were classified missing or POW’s. Total people killed, including civilians, 16.5 million. This small town in Belgium reminds itself every night of not only the horror of the battle its town was involved in, but has full understanding of what the cost of this war was.  Here in the United States many towns/cities have decided to cancel or cut back on their Memorial Day parades/activities because of the “economy”. Yet, there are Memorial Day sales for underwear, cars and cases of beer. I hope at least you will consider hanging your flag out for this one day. It is a special day for us. This small town in Belgium has not forgotten the sacrifices of their town; they remember them every night.


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