Ypern in Belgien

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Ypres - Tyne Cot - Menin Gate - The Last Post Ceremony

Learn more about: "A short film about my visit to the Commenwealth War graves at Ypres, Belgium". Dan Van Heeswyk, 2008

Zum 10. Mal haben Schülerinnen und Schüler der Gesamtschule Berger Feld an den "Gedenkfeierlichkeiten" am 11. November 2008 im belgischen Ypern teilgenommen. Sie haben sich intensiv mit dem 1. Weltkrieg beschäftigt. Die SchülerInnen haben an einem Grab auf einem britischen Soldatenfriedhof diese Rede gehalten:

Remembrance Speech 2008

Good morning everybody and thank you very much indeed for joining us today at this very special place. In the Ypres Salient alone there are 40.000 headstones which are marked with the words 'Known unto God'. These headstones 2mark the resting place for the remains of soldiers whose identity could not be established except that they could be identified as British. Quite often these anonymous victims of the Great War are referred to as "unknown soldiers", and indeed we do not know anything about the soldier we have come remember today. It is a very frightening idea for human beings to think they could die and that no one would be able to mark their grave, to say where they had come from, to say when they had been born and when ex-actly they had died.

But it is true:
- We do not know this soldier’s name and perhaps nobody ever will.
- We do not know where he was born, nor how and when he died.
- We do not know where in Britain he lived or when he left to fight in the war.
- We do not know his age or what he did for a living before he became a soldier.
- We do not know his rank or his battalion.
- We have no idea what religion he had or if he had any religion at all.
- We do not know whether he was married or single.
- We do not know who loved him or whom he loved, if he had children or who was waiting for him to return from this merciless war.

His family is lost to us just as he was lost to them. He may have been one of those young men believing that the war would be an adventure he did not want to miss.

He may have gone because he simply believed fighting was the duty he owed his country and his king. We simply do not know. But still, here he is, buried in this cold and wet earth, in, what Rupert Brooke called, "some corner of a foreign field that is forever England." And here we are, people from Belgium and Germany, some 90 years after the end of the war, to show that this young British man may very well be unknown, but not forgotten.

It is true, nothing we can do or say will make him live again nor will it stop the wars going on today. We are not naïve, we cannot change the world, but we can step out of our regular lives, come to this place and pause for a second to think about someone far less fortunate than we are.

We can live and work and dance and laugh and cry and we are not ashamed about it because we are glad to be alive. But precisely because we are glad to live we have come to this cemetery, to this young Englishman to be the family he had lost, to be the friends he had lost, to be the future he had lost. We are here to demonstrate that pain, suffering and death cannot have the final say and will not have the final say.

We are here to show you that people from Belgium and Germany, once bitter enemies, are now living in peace and so are the great-grandchildren of England and Germany. We want you to see that Germany must no longer be feared, that it has changed and that it has be-come a better, more peaceful place not least because so many people with different ethnic origins live there.

So we hope that our visit and our words help you rest in peace and that, one day, in a place we call heaven, you can finally take the ones you love into your arms again.

Thank you!

We would now like you to keep a minute’s silence in honor of all the people who suffered during the wars past and present. And as a symbol of peace and reconciliation we would also like you to take your neighbors by the hand.

Andreas Jordan, Dezember 2008

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