Monday 5 December 2016

Armistice day for warring politicians on Flanders fields

Published 27/06/2014 | 02:30

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured attending the 'Last Post' ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres before the EU leaders meeting as part of the European Council.
Photo: Peter Cavanagh
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured attending the 'Last Post' ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres before the EU leaders meeting as part of the European Council. Photo: Peter Cavanagh
A man walks past poppy wreaths as he visits the Menin Gate ahead of an EU Summit in Ypres, Belgium on Thursday, June 26, 2014.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to France's President Francois Hollande
British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, speaks with French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to mark the Centenary of World War I at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

Ypres is the prettiest of places, its winding cobbled streets and sandstone bricked buildings bathed in warm midsummer sunshine.

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It looks like an idyllic spot, yet the soil beneath and beyond this Flanders town is stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of men and women, killed by bullets, shells, bombs and mustard gas during the most savage of conflicts.

Five battles raged through its narrow streets in World War I. The third, the terrible slaughter of the Battle of Passchendaele left almost half-a-million souls dead, and the town which rose from their ashes, filled with war museums and the soaring memorial arch of the Menin Gate, is a dignified and powerful reminder to the leaders of nations to Never Forget.

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