Sarah and I had the privilege of taking part in four hours of ceremonies commemorating the first battle between the Germans and the British in World War I in Mons, Belgium. The afternoon began with the planting of a tall oak tree in a park. There were moving speeches by the Prime Minister of Belgium, the ambassadors from Germany, Canada, and Great Britain. Of course, we could best understand the speeches that were in English. I was moved to hear special mention made of two of the major characters in The Angel of Mons, Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley.
Then the entourage—and four buses of invited guests, the two of us included—went on to three sites in Mons where wreaths were laid in commemoration of the soldiers who died on all sides. At Place des Martyrs, and at the memorial to the first and last battles in which Great Britain’s soldiers fought words of reconciliation and prayers for peace were spoken.At St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, where soldiers from Belgium, England, and Germany are buried, hundreds of people attended a stirring ceremony. The one priest who delivered his address in English was eloquent in his plea that the nations and peoples of the world work for peace for all. Then we attended a reception at the Town Hall, a magnificent building, the focal point of the Grand Place.
Many times during the day Sarah and I were moved to gentle tears.
We have met many people who we have enjoyed getting to know. We will stay in touch with them.
We carry with us thoughts of our many friends and family, and convey in our hearts their good works for peace for all the peoples of the world. In a way, we are your ambassadors.