Thursday, July 12, 2007

The 90th Commemoration of Passchendaele

There's a quiet calm on the western front today ...

Steven has just arrived to make sure we get to where we're going and the Mayor of Mesen is leaning on the counter nearby.

The choir is listening to a lecture by prominent New Zealand war historian, Chris Pugsley and this photographer is blogging, too ashamed to go far with her seriously wet hair.

We completed the mine and trench tours last night without loss of life and then the Saint Seraphim Choir gave a truly sublime 70 minute performance at the local church.

Pressing the shutter to capture the moment seemed sacriligeous but I have more than a few images that need to travel back to Antwerpen with me before being edited and downsized.

I was checking the contents of my memory cards this morning and ended up giving an impromtu show of 'photos so far', that would be the unedited 'photographs so far'. Every photographers nightmare ...

So that's a big 'no' to posting images yet, Meneer Manic.
I can't do anything with them on the computers I have access to here and they're too big to let blogger download.

Apparently our bus is part of the army convoy, so we should get to our destination without issue later today ... roadside bombs planted by local Belgians seem an unlikely risk.

We have passes to the invited guest area however whether that means I can get good photographs remains to be seen.

Hmmm, I'm well-positioned for eavesdropping ... as I sit here typing, the American press guy is talking of security measures they take for a presidential visit back in his world, as in welding the street manholes closed 2 days before.

There's quiet excitement out on Flanders Field really and a long day ahead of us.
Let's see how it goes.

The programme begins at 15.30 in Tyne Cot cemetery where an inauguration ceremony with Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Paola of Belgium, the President of Ireland and the Governor General of New Zealand in attendence ... a few of the dignitaries.

New Zealand's Seraphim Choir, the choir I'm traveling with, will sing there and then again tonight in the Menenpoort or Menin Gate ... the huge memorial gate at the entrance to Ieper (Ypres). An area passed through by many of the Allied soldiers as they headed out to fight the enemy in world war one.

I feel truly lucky to be out here and part of it all.

Tot straks.


Manic said...

We Belgians only plant roadside bombs of love :D And for Nazis real ones too, but don't tell them.
We want pictures of the queen and no I'm not talking about you, just to avoid confusion :D

Peter said...

Virtually every TV station elaborately covered the Commemoration of Passendaele tonight. It was on all Belgian channels, along with the BBC and countless others.

It was impressive to watch, though security seemed exaggerated, as usual.

womanwandering said...

Is that so, Meneer Manic ... roadside bombs of love?

I finally got your requested photograph posted :)

Peter, apparently NZ showed very little interest in events over here. It's a pity, it was so incredibly beautiful being a part of it all and watching how Belgians responded to our kiwi choir.

Security ... didn't seem like enough once I was there, honestly.