Man on a Mission
                                                                                 (see photos below)
There's a family named Notredâme in Belgium, which has lived in Flanders for many generations. The last several generations of the family have dealt with the fearful legacy of the many bloody and pointless battles which raged "In Flanders Fields". World War I was a study in how otherwise (or at least ostensibly) civilized societies could be plunged into war by a manipulative elite, and Europe guaranteed its twilight with the blood that was shed on those battlefields, and all the bloodshed necessary in World War II to essentially return a status quo ante. The heart of an entire generation was destroyed in those battles, silencing voices which would have spoken against fascism, factionalism and fanaticism.

Of course, the decisions made in councils of power are beyond the influence of the commoner/citizen, but they usually bear the brunt, as they cannot usually choose where they live, and are suddenly engulfed in conflict.

Believe it or not, to this very day, Belgian farmers in Flanders run the risk of turning up munitions from World War I with their plow, and every year on average several Belgians lose their lives to this antique ammunition. There is actually a special unit of the Belgian Army which is charged with traversing the roads in that part of the country, and picking up the shells, weapons, and other paraphernalia of that time. Several museums in the neighborhood are festooned with these sad souvenirs. Apparently, during the battles which took place there during two years in the war, there was a very rainy season, and literally millions of artillery shells rained on those relatively few, extremely muddy acres, and many of those shells burrowed into the mud, to turn up decades later.

The current scion of that family, Lode Notredâme, with the able and loving assistance of his wife Sandi, has made it his mission to promote his passion, and I tell you, friends, it is a downright pleasure to see someone, anyone, pursue their passion, because they are, at least at times, the best they can be.

What inspires and supercharges Lode is the hearfelt need to share with the world the story of what happened there, and how our actions can have repercussions which echo down the generations. This is literally a matter of life and death for this person (to stretch a point, admittedly). The stories about the day to day experience of the men in the trenches was at times heart-rending. As an easy gift, he passes around an old helmet with cartridges and shell casings from the battlefield, and believe me, they won't run out for a while. Our ingenuity at creating such weapons is, fortunately, offset at times by our tremendous compassion and ability to get off our duff and do the right thing, at least in this author's experience.

Anyway, once the Euro-Dollar exchange rate has improved somewhat, consider signing up for the Quasimodo Tour of Flanders Fields. It is a memory waiting to happen.

Here are some photos of that terrible waste of life that devastated an entire generation of Europeans:





Learn about Flanders Fields





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