Visiting Ypres is a moving experience; no matter how many times I get back to the city that once was the center of a fierce battle, I cannot help but wonder why? Of course there is the logical explanation: the semi-circle surrounding the city, defended at all costs, and the lack of any other option for the German army. Yet it seems that the strategic reasons fail to convince. What needs no convincing, however, is the sincerity and historical accuracy in which museums, monuments, and cemeteries are telling the story of what happened in Flanders Fields. From the new Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres to the restored and expanded Passchendaele Museum, great pain is taken to tell a story with the help of the latest technology.
The cemeteries are well maintained, and the superintendents are caretakers that have profound connections with the land on which so many found an eternal resting place. Is there hope that the history of the Great War will not be forgotten? Will future generations come to Flanders Fields when the events surrounding the centenary are over? What does this somber anniversary mean for today’s citizen of Belgium? Do the Maori with their long-living oral tradition have a better chance of remembering Zonnebeke and Passchendaele? Only time will tell.