Ossuary At Verdun
Verdun...Verdun is the name of a city in NE France. It may sound familiar but most Americans probably don't know much about what happened there: Battle Of Verdun. It is not my intention to teach history this morning, no just merely remember.
Verdun Was a Major Battle of The Great War (Known in the United States more commonly as WWI). It was fought, primarily between the French and the Germans from the Spring of 1916 until late fall of the same year. The casualties combined were over a million killed, wounded and missing.
Bones from Verdun Battle in Ossuary
One only has to walk that Battlefield or visit the Ossuary (picture above) to realize why the French people had a hard time accepting another war with Germany just a single generation after this one. France lost two generations of Men in the Great War and I don't believe they've ever completely recovered from it. The picture above is one of over ten chambers beneath the Ossuary at Verdun containing bones of the unknown picked up from the battlefield over the years...
The carnage and inhumanity that took place in this now, tranquil, forest covered area is beyond comprehension. Most contemporary pictures of the battle show barren, shell cratered hillsides when they picture Verdun. Today those hillsides are heavily forested, it is as if God himself covered those terrible scars with trees....
The area around the city of Verdun was the scene of most of the fighting. The city is essentially surround by large rolling hills, heavily wooded at the beginning of the battle, stripped of all living things by shellfire during the battle and now restored back to it's natural state of heavy forest.
Deep in this forest, near the former site of one of the several little villages that were literally wiped off the face of the earth, stands a small, one room chapel (shown below through a gate over the door). It is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and haunting places I've ever scene. You cannot go there and not feel the presence of so many lost souls. The power there is incredible. Literally the soil, the vegetation and the trees were fertilized with the pulverized bodies of thousands of men making this entire area one gigantic cemetery.
Not sure why this is on my mind today...I suppose I just can't seem to forget those horrible lessons from The History of Humanity and as we all nod in agreement when someone talks about what a dangerous world we live in I wonder: when wasn't it dangerous?
My question is how do we reconcile that with a shared desire to live in peace?Especially when it's obvious that throughout history there is always SOMEONE who does NOT share that desire...so what now? I'd say we start with a prayer...