Remembering Flanders’ Fields


NOVEMBER 12, 2012

Gazette van Detroit Wreath

On November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM the guns fell silent between the millions of armed men along the 800 mile-long Western Front. Literally up until that minute on many stretches of the front line, men fought and died. On November 11, 2012 a small group of Belgians and Americans commemorated the sacrifice of these young men.

Through the kind generosity of Gazette van Detroit supporters Dimitri Hoegaerts and Ellen Samyn, the Gazette van Detroit participated in this ceremony. The wreath above was donated by Mr. Hoegaerts and Ms. Samyn to the memory of the American soldiers who fought and died in Flanders Fields.

Appropriately enough, this cemetery is called “Flanders Fields”. Based in Waregem, West Flanders, it was the site of fierce fighting in literally the last days of the war. The death date of one Corporal Davis, November 10, 1918, perhaps only hours from the Armistice time, is testimony to the very thin timeline that separated those who died from those who survived. One of the nearly 400 American doughboys buried at Waregem was actually a Flemish American.

This of course brings us back to yet another point of connection between Flanders and America in commemorating those who have served both countries. The last Belgian veteran of World War 1, the West Fleming Cyriel Barbary, died a U.S. citizen in the Detroit area on September 16, 2004.