November 10, 2009

Good Times, Good Food and Good Friends!

When I was in Brussels this past January, I had the pleasure of meeting Stijn's roommate, Stijn (yes, they have the same name) and his girlfriend Birgit.

Birgit thought that I would really enjoy a Belgian home cooked meal and asked Stijn if we would like to have dinner together tonight (Oct 28). GREAT! So plans are made and Birgit prepares a great Salmon quiche.

Now all of this might not sound very special or interesting to you, but for me it was a very special evening. It seems that Stijn and Birgit had planned this to be a celebration of my birthday and presented me with some gifts.

You must understand that these gifts are very special to me because they are from the town of Ieper. I fell in love with Ieper when Stijn had taken me there this past January. But what really made the gifts special is that Birgit is from Ieper! Plus she did her homework and added a special thoughtfulness to my gifts. In my special package was a magnet of Ieper knowing that I love to collect magnets and that I didn't get one when I was there. Also knowing that I love special items of the region, she included a little bottle of Jenever, a poppy liqueur. But the item that touched me the most was the Belgian chocolate bar with a scripture that was written by Major John McCrae in 1915 called "Flanders' Fields", which I think deserves to be shared with everyone who reads this blog.

"Flanders' Fields"

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.
Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

You see, Ieper was in the middle of the front line between the German and Allied Armies and was destroyed in WWI (The Great War). It is now one of the most beautiful little villages in West Flanders. But this village has not forgotten it's past and the "Menen Gate" is where the names of 54,896 soldiers are engraved, who lost their lives during this horrible war and have no known grave.

To be able to share good times with good friends is a special evening I will never forget!

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