Monday, September 15, 2008

On Flanders Fields

a scene from yesterday, originally uploaded by - di.

I spent yesterday in the midst of a small gathering of New Zealanders out on Flanders Fields. It was a good day, one filled with a little bit of longing and much laughter.

The minister officiating over the ceremony spoke the most beautiful prayer that talked of the thousands of New Zealanders who died on Flanders Fields during world war one ... of how they would never again see the pohutakawa bloom at Christmas time, nor the yellow kowhai in spring, or hear the daytime call of the tui and the night call of the morepork (a small NZ owl).

She listed rivers and mountains, slipping my Taieri River in and surprising me and probably bought tears to the eyes of all those who have been a long time away from home ...

It was a stunningly powerful speech; quietly spoken and perfectly pitched to touch our kiwis hearts.

The day seemed a little bit more special than any other day I've spent out on the fields, despite spending most of my photographic time battling with the intense and sparkling sunlight.

Sergeant Henry Nicholas VC had his memorial plaque unveiled and the ties that bind New Zealand and Belgie were honoured yet again.


furiousBall said...

and here I always thought that the morepork was just me at an all you can eat Chinese buffet

Manictastic said...

Those kiwis always backing up the Belgian army as if they have a bigger population. Remarkable and something to honour.

Di Mackey said...

Well there's you, Van ... and then there's this little owl that sounds like it's calling for more pork ;)

I'm always stunned when I realise that NZ lost the most per head of population in the war. We were only 1 million back in those days. The soldiers would love the way you Belgians look after their memory, Manic ... some of my favourite Belgians are to be found out there in West Flanders. :)

Jule's Euro-Arabic Short Story said...

So humbling to visit these war sites and know how our soldiers, our grandparents and great grandparents generations, contributed such a lot. I remember going to Gallipoli and feeling so humbled and so angry at the waste of lives on both sides.
And still war goes on in many places in the world. Crazy really.

Inge De Leeuw said...

Waw, that kind of speech would indeed make the hardiest Kiwi choke back tears. Vaughan always got misty-eyed back in Japan when he saw the '100% Pure New Zealand' ads - a brilliant feat of marketing! I wonder what would make us Belgians equally nostalgic...

Di Mackey said...

We went to Gallipoli together, didn't we :)

It is sad and humbling. Dad's stepdad almost died on the Somme, his crowd were involved in the Battle of Mesen here in Belgium, I just don't if he had joined back up with them by then. His horse was killed in the Somme explosion that injured him.

So Vaughan knows how it is to be a kiwi out in the world so far from empty beaches, tuis and fantails, from clean air and all those things that make kiwis kiw.

Belgians ... I asked Gert and off the top of his head, he thought it would be a food thing :) I hope you blog about it one day soon. I'm curious about what makes you homesick Inge.