Monday, May 29, 2006


Fellow blogger Luc Van Braekel lives in Waregem, where there is a "small" American cemetery. It's called "Flanders Field" and contains 368 graves, all from US Army and Army Air Corps personnel. In the middle of the cemetery stands a memorial with a small chapel inside (credit photo: Luc Van Braekel). Luc has a sober yet informative post here, where he describes, a.o., how a flight of four F-15E's flew over Waregem yesterday in "Missing Man formation" to commemmorate the fallen. Among those who attended the ceremony were US Ambassador to Belgium Tom Korologos (who assisted L. Paul Bremer III in Iraq for some time), Lt. Gen. Edward Hanlon jr., US representative to NATO in Brussels, federal minister Renaat Landuyt and Supreme Court judge Erik De Rijcke. One year ago Luc had a post on Memorial Day too, and from that post I'm borrowing the following poem, since I think it is as beautiful as it is thought-provoking. It was written in 1937, the year when the memorial on the photo was inaugurated, by a Cpt. Archibald MacLeish, who was a famous poet in the tradition of the Great War Poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and John McCrae, and, being a man of literature, quite fittingly made it Librarian of Congress. MacLeish's poem is a tribute to his brother, Kenneth MacLeish, a US Army Air Corps pilot who was shot down and killed by German gunfire in 1918 near the coastal town of Nieuwpoort. The title of the poem is "Memorial Rain". The following is but a small quote:


Ambassador Puser the ambassador
Reminds himself in French, felicitous tongue,
What these (young men no longer) lie here for
In rows that once, and somewhere else, were young...

All night in Brussels the wind had tugged at my door;
I had heard the wind at my door and the trees strung
Taut, and to me who had never been before
In that country it was a strange wind, blowing
Steadily, stiffening the walls, the floor,
The roof of my room. I had not slept for knowing
He too, dead, was a stranger in that land
And felt beneath the earth in the wind's flowing
A tightening of roots and would not understand,
Remembering lake winds in Illinois,
That Strange wind. I had felt his bones in the sand
Listening [....]

In the gripe rain
The wind coiled glistening, darted fled,
Dragging its heavy body: at Waereghem
The wind coiled in the grass above his head:
Waiting - listening...

God damn us if we ever forget.