In Antwerp, Armistice Day was commemorated with the laying of a wreath at the Schoonselhof cemetery. There were also speeches. Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) draws parallels with the current corona pandemic. “Healthcare providers are today’s frontline soldiers,” he charged. “They are there day and night to care for patients, reassure them, get them through a crisis and assist them. She earns our substantive thanks and appreciation.”
The Armistice commemorates the end of the First World War and that was more than a hundred years ago, but according to De Wever it is still worth dwelling on the Atrocity of that war and the pivotal moment at its end. “The Great War was the first, most brutal of its kind”, De Wever. “Weapons of destruction were used on a large scale for the first time and the number of dead and maimed is growing exponentially. Flanders received the full brunt like few other regions and until today it is marked and distorted between Diksmuide and the North Sea by the thousands of soldier graves and by bombardments and trenches.”
However, the facts of that time also make us grateful, De Wever. “We must have had ours that we never got before,” he says.
“The certain months were of course not the easiest in our recent history. The word ‘war’ was even brought out again to indicate the multi-campaign fight against the virus. We are confronted with disturbing facts, we are confronted with the vulnerability of our environment, on a social, economic and cultural level. We are faced with an elusive, invisible enemy and the proverbial ‘nostalgia for the realm of freedom’ is also part of our language again.”