An unexpected reaction
Verdun Travel Blog› entry 43 of 44 › view all entries
September 18th, 2008 – by: kat_mac27
Those history buffs amoung you will know that Verdun is the site of a huge World War I memorial. It is the final resting place of over 130 000 mostly French and German soldiers. Many are unidentified. It is a formidable sight, thousands of little white crosses in straight lines on brilliantly green grass. The memorial museum and bell tower sit atop a hill overlooking the graves.
There is a large hall in which the names of missing or unidentified soldiers are engraved on every inch of wall space.
Around 6pm, as the sun was setting, we were paying our respects and explaining the purpose of the site to the children. A loud tolling bell began to ring. At first I thought it was just the time but the bell went on and on. Thankfully it wasn't a disturbing sound, slightly chilling though, in a way that was completely different from the biting wind.
The bell is not a death knoll, according to locals it is calling the lost soldiers home. Sort of a French 'Last Call' such as we Australians play on Anzac Day. I was amazed at my own reaction. The emotion of that place was so strong. I couldn't help feeling overwhelming sympathy and regret for the young lives lost in that war. Some were only 17 years old.
All I could do was shed a tear and make my peace, but the experience was very deep. I would recommend it to anyone nearby. After all, we can only learn from the past.
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