PORTAL 52 Week 45: Remembering
Today, November 11, 2018, marks the one hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War One. It is a day for remembering those who have died fighting for freedom and those who continue to serve in order to protect our freedom. There are no more survivors of "the war to end all wars", so the stories must be told to new generations, and the memories kept alive as a testament to the price paid for the freedom we have now.
On our trip to Europe last month, I was particularly moved by our visits to museums, cemeteries and monuments throughout Normandy. Vimy Ridge was especially impactful. We walked through the trenches and tunnels that surrounded 'No Man's Land", an area of treacherous land that stretched between opposing armies. During war it was littered with coils of barbed wire. Water or mud filled craters and enemy fire were additional obstacles faced by anyone daring to venture onto this strip of land.
The displays and information shared on the tour made it easy to imagine how difficult life in the trenches was for the soldiers. They battled lice infestations, trench foot, and had to compete with rats for every scrap of food. Soldiers on the front also experienced long bouts of boredom, followed by periods of intense fear. Exhaustion ruled both day and night.
One of the pictures I took while on the tour was of the view through the metal gun portal along the top of the sand-bagged lined trench. The scene of a beautiful sunny day, with yellow flowers visible in a lush green field stood in stark contrast to what had just been described by the tour guide, and was certainly juxtaposed to what my imagination was conjuring in the moment.
This is the reference photo for the painting this week. You may have noticed that I changed the yellow flowers to red poppies in the painting. Remembering.
Also at Vimy Ridge there was an exceptionally moving exhibit detailing the last 100 days of World War 1. It was here that I learned about Private George Lawrence Price (256265 - 28th BN. Canadian Inf.) He was the 25 year old Canadian soldier who was killed by a German sniper at 10:58 a.m., merely 2 minutes before the official declaration of the end of the war. He was the last Canadian and Commonwealth soldier to be killed in action.
You can read more here:
I dedicate this painting not only to Private Price, but to all men, women, and children who have died as a result of conflicts around the world. This is my way of remembering their sacrifice, of re-telling one story. This painting is also a way of expressing my gratitude to all of those courageous peacekeepers who continue to serve our country. Remembering.