LC3 Battlefields Trip
The battlefields are now tranquil places and the war graves are set out in exquisitely manicured order. They exist in such contrast to the devastation and slaughter that marked these areas a little over 100 years ago, when it seemed as though the world had gone mad.
The LC3 girls and staff who visited these areas in Belgium and Northern France were often moved or stunned into silence by the enormity of what had transpired in these fields and towns where the blood of thousands from across the world, in the prime of their lives, had been spilled. Individual lives are marked by one of the simple graves among row upon row, or simply as a name among list upon list of those unaccounted for. Sadly, many remain unnamed and are represented by the grave of "An Unknown Soldier… known unto God" in the words of Rudyard Kipling.
By standing physically in those places and learning a little of what transpired, the enormity of what took place was indeed brought home to the group from CLC. Over the few days we were away together, we were able to reflect on the impact of this terrible time in the history of the world, leading to such senseless loss of life and destruction.
At times we took our eyes from the vast landscape of graves and looked at individual memorials, realising how each one of those crosses or tombstones marked the place of a living, breathing, much loved family member – a child, a sibling or a parent – someone whose place at home would be forever missed and an entire future blotted out in a moment. I am sure that for all those who attended the Battlefields trip, the next time they are part of another collective act of remembrance, they will remember a bit more keenly and participate a little more earnestly, keeping the promise we make so often - we will remember them.
Those of us who accompanied the LC3 girls were exceedingly proud of them. They were cooperative and engaged throughout, and our guides also commended them regularly for their impeccable behaviour and thoughtful questions and responses. They were a credit to CLC and their manner did indeed honour the memories of the fallen.
Mr Loughlin summed things up brilliantly for us in Prayers after the trip when he said, "For me, commemorating this gargantuan loss of life as a sacrifice is too safe and comforting. It allows us to attribute it with virtuous meaning, store it away and feel mournful for a morning in November.
"What this trip emphasised to me was the precariousness and preciousness of life. Remembering shouldn’t be static, remembering should be a reminder to do what these men and women never got the chance to do: to live and to strive for some peace and happiness in this world."
I trust that those of us whose lives were enriched through the Battlefields experience will indeed tread more carefully and live more resolutely on the journey of life, heeding the words of the poet, John Maxwell Edmunds (who hails from Gloucestershire):
‘When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.’
Mrs Oosthuizen, Head of Lower College