[Thank You Canada, Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony, November 11th, 2014] Since 1926, every night, Belgian volunteer firefighters have broken the silence with the Last Post cry across the cobbled streets of Ieper (Ypres), a town which was entirely rebuilt from the rubble and devastation from the First & Second World War. Yesterday on November 11th, 2014, The Last Post sounded again under the Menin gate in to remember the dead repeating the ritual at 11am for the 29,759th time.
We have told our travellers before that nothing can quite prepare you for the powerful emotion you feel from experiencing this ceremony first hand...and this year rang true more than ever, as thousands upon thousands of people, a larger turn out than any other year, showed up to join hands and commemorate 100 years since the start of the Great War.
The vast, white Portland-stone walls of the Menin Gate are engraved with the names of nearly 55,000 British & Commonwealth soldiers lost on the field of battle, with no known graves. They were sons, fathers, and brothers, distant relatives now of many who joined us at yesterday's gathering. Many do not know that in fact the Menin Gate walls weren't big enough: there are yet another 34,957 names of the lost and untraced that were still needed to be inscribed. Today, those names can be found on the walls of the Tyne Cot Cemetery to the east of Ypres. These men are long gone, but the residents of Ypres make sure they are not forgotten.
The History of Menin Gate Chronicled as a mere crossing point over the moat and through the ramparts of the old town fortifications, this gate is of special significance especially for us today. It was from this very spot that thousands of soldiers set off for the part of the Front called the Ypres Salient - many destined never to return. Head of the Police Force, Pierre Vandenbraambussche, founded the Last Post Association and the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres in 1928. It has been held every day since - the sole exception being only the four years between 1940 - 1044 where German occupation prevented the tradition during the Second World War. The Last Post Association has survived however, along with the town, and is still responsible for the day to day activities of this unique tribute. The ceremony serves as a symbol of overwhelming gratitude to the men who willingly and knowingly made the supreme sacrifice on the Salient, fighting to restore eventual peace and freedom to Belgium. The very persistence of this tradition, day after day, keeps the memory alive as each generation continues to keep the memory alive. It is not just an enduring reminder of the past, but a beacon of hope that projects into the future. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this emotionally invigorating day. We had no idea just how special this moment was going to be. It was unlike any other memorial we have been involved with. We hope that the next four years are all the more significant. Are you a Canadian? For involvement at the Menin Gate Nov. 11th 2015- 2018, please see the Travel Opportunities available to you For more information about Menin Gate and the Association, visit www.lastpost.be/en