As you drive towards and back from the Trench, you pass the Yser Tower . It’s a memorial tower along the Yser river and also a symbol of Flemish emancipation. At 84 meters tall, it’s the highest peace monument in Europe. ‘Nooit meer Oorlog’ (Never again War) is written on the tower in the four languages of the armies in the region during the First World War, being Dutch, French, English and elevator can take you to the top of the building, which offers great views of the town of Diksmuide, the former battlefields and the Yser river. The stairs down will take you through a museum about war, peace and Flemish emancipation.
Long day but very worthwhile. Our Begian guide, Diederich, was very informative and well organised, He spoke perfect the arrangement went well, after a 30 minutes late start, as the coach had problems coming from Brussels, apparently. It was very moving to see the various cemeteries and memorials, and the memorabilia and exhibits in the museums were well displayed. We didn't have time to eat before the Last post ceremony, at the Menin Gate, but probably we chose a slow restaurant. Lots of young Canadians and a squad of Mounties were present at the ceremony to commemorate 100 years since the battle of Vimy Ridge. Very touching.
However, the Memorial Day ceremony in Waregem has something very unique. During these annual celebrations in Waregem we received the . Ambassador to Belgium, a Representative of His Majesty the King and many other VIP’s. Waregem has succeeded in making this event a special tradition. At no other American cemetery can we see the local population being so closely involved with Memorial Day. Only at the ceremony in Waregem there is a major participation by the local community in providing the ‘singing school children’. It has been a standing tradition for over 80 years that the school children of Waregem sing the “Star Spangled Banner”. A tear jerking moment for all those present. Many generations feel a special bond with the cemetery and return to the ceremonies each year.