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When I was in high school I had a eureka moment: everything is connected!  Dividing things into subjects is a false construct!  Math, geography, history, French, all are intertwined! The more you learn, the more the plot thickens!

I was always a bright student but somehow I had never before realized this.  I spent the day sharing my amazing discovery with others including my English teacher.  To my disappointment, no one cancelled school or declared a new holiday: International Day for the Recognition of Interconnectedness.  It was just same old, same old: Double French, Functions and Relations, Salami Sandwich and Warm Yogurt, Drafting, Typing, Locker, Walk Home.

Vimy trench

Vimy trench

On our visit to France this year, we wanted to visit Vimy Ridge, an important historic site commemorating the role Canadians played in the First World War.  We sent a couch surfing request to a family in nearby Arras and off we went.  Had we ever heard of Arras before?  No, we had not.  But we learned a lot about it from our CS hosts and decided to visit the Wellington Quarry and the centre town based on their recommendations.

Arras centre, rebuilt

Arras centre, rebuilt

Arras was almost completely bombed in World War I and 3/4 of it had to be rebuilt.  It was again partially rebuilt after World War II.  The town is situated close to the Belgian border and the architecture is not like that in the rest of France: it is very Flemish.

Recently, a deranged and violent man fatally shot a sentry standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Canada.  He then ran into the nearby Parliament Buildings and began shooting there.  Ottawa is a boring quiet government place and the murder shocked and shook up the whole city.  The sad event shone a spotlight on the war memorial, especially as Remembrance Day was approaching.

Young Paris with a poppy

Young Paris remembers with a poppy

It turns out that the Unknown Soldier was a Canadian killed in Arras during the First World War.  For many years, he was buried just outside Arras, close to Vimy Ridge, in a British military cemetery.  He was one of approximately 20,000 Canadians killed in the Great War who have no identifiable grave.  These graves are marked with the epitaph, “A Canadian Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God”.  In 2000, his remains were removed and brought to Ottawa where they lay in state in the Parliament Buildings for three days before being interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Vimy tombstone, Known Unto God

Vimy tombstone, Known Unto God

Now strangely, when the sentry was shot and killed in October, the mayor of Arras was in Ottawa to visit Parliament and discuss plans for the Remembrance Day ceremony.  Canadians are highly regarded in the parts of France that were close to the front lines and the town of Arras was also shocked to hear about what had happened in Ottawa.

What does all of this mean?  Some people call it mere coincidence.  Some call it fate.  Others believe it to be divine intervention.  I think that it proves my point that the more you learn, the more you find that everything, absolutely everything is interconnected.  There is a strong gossamer web that binds the universe.

Vimy Memorial near Arras, France

Vimy Memorial near Arras, France

I have walked past the war memorial in Ottawa many times without knowing anything about the Unknown Soldier or about Arras or about the battles that were fought in Vimy.  A mundane click of a mouse led us to visit Arras in the first place.  It is only now that we are back home and have time to reflect on our travels that I see how much we not only learned about other places but how much we learned about our own place.

Dinner for twelve

Dinner for twelve at Arras couch surf

Quote of the Day comes from the gravesite in Arras where the unknown soldier used to lie:

THE FORMER GRAVE OF AN
UNKNOWN CANADIAN SOLDIER
OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
HIS REMAINS WERE REMOVED
ON 25 MAY 2000 AND NOW
LIE INTERRED AT THE
NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL
IN OTTAWA CANADA.