Mons is in full remembrance mode. Last weekend, especially.
August 23 was the one hundred year anniversary of the Battle of Mons from World War I. British flags wave, and have since the British royals visited in early August. Poppies are everywhere.
The Battle of Mons, while involving more countries, is mostly remembered as being fought between the Germans and the British. All around town, including in the fields just behind our house.
As my children have no concept of war other than what they see happening between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, now seemed like a good time to introduce them to at least the notion. At the ages of 6 and 9, war is not something that should be at the forefront of their minds, but we’re here. In Belgium. A main playing ground for the most recent major wars. History is all around us so, hopefully, they will take these small bits, these feelings, home with them. Then, when they sit in Mr. Harrison’s European History class in high school, the idea that these wars happened too far away and too long ago to really understand, which was always my problem, will not be a problem for them. They’ll have their own memories and experiences to call upon. Because these battles, these wars, these men can’t be forgotten.
So with all of that in mind, we spent a few days taking in the history. Walking the fields that were so full of young soldiers one hundred years ago, visiting the monuments built to memorialize them and the cemetery that holds the very first and very last British soldiers who died during the Great War.
And we also looked for angels. There is a legend that St. George and his army of angels appeared in the sky above our backyard, helping to guide the vastly outnumbered British army in their battle against the Germans. A story that, while fictional, has endured and grown through the years. A nightly event on the Grand Place all this month will give you all the details.
Lest we forget….