…and in the morning

The great red sun rising above the battlefields of the Ypres Salient. (P. Ferguson image, September 21, 2017)

The great red sun rising above the battlefields of the Ypres Salient. (P. Ferguson image, September 21, 2017)

On the Road to Home

In the wee hours of the early morning Kurt arrives to take us from Ieper (Ypres) to Lille, France. It’s time to start the trek for home and along the trail there is one last passage of these sites of conflict that we have come to know with respect and hope (and with a hundred years of hindsight). It is green here now, though our driver tells us the drought of a short while ago left these fields brown, dry, and largely without the regeneration that I enjoy. These torn and scarred nation landscapes are worthy of their rebirth, the colour brings hope, the cycle of life delivers nature’s bounty in leafy greens, corn and root crops amidst the still and rusted iron relics that lurk in this earth.

Our driver, Kurt, is knowledgeable and we ask him about his work and how busy he has been during the many 100th anniversary ceremonies. “They come from all over…Scotland, England, America, Australia and Canada”, Kurt tells us, “…and they will continue to come…we have had so much attention from television and filmmakers (and others)…they are all coming to see…even from the Netherlands who were not involved in the Great War.” As we discuss the future together, we recognize that there are more anniversaries to follow after the 100th anniversary of the armistice 11 November 2018. What will happen in Ypres at that time or for the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Menin Gate Memorial 24 July 2027?

It is then that I think upon the words of Field Marshall Plummer at the Gate’s unveiling, “He is not missing, he is here” and then I return to the spoken words heard at the Menin Gate ceremony each night, “…at the going down of the sun and in the morning…” As we continue our trek across the battlefield landscape in these wee hours the great red sun rises above the plain and, as if to tell us, it speaks for us all, “We will remember them”.

 


About The Author

pferguson
In April 2007 Paul met Casey and Ian Williams of the Paradigm Motion Picture Company in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul has worked with Paradigm since 2009 as Producer and Historian. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was amazed by films such as David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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