The inspiration for this blog came from a close friend and avid supported of the cause from back east. So to you, A.E., I yet again give profound thanks for tipping me off about the story.
When some look at an apple they might see a BC Delicious.. when I look at an apple I see a computer. When they look at tree a tree-house comes to mind, but I see lumber to build things with.
Looking at the right medal, hopefully you have identified it as the Victoria Cross. But I see the blue ribbon, and know that it was a medal awarded to a sailor. The army medals had a crimson (red) suspension ribbon.
But in 1918 the Royal Air Force was created. Now a third colour was needed. HRH King George V then decided that three colours were too many and ordered that from that day forth, all ribbons would be the red ones. Those with the blue had to exchange them for the red. Therefore, I know instantly that, if the ribbon is original, it is one awarded to a hero for actions before early 1918.
Depending on who's eyes are doing the seeing, the image they get... or think about... might be a little different then the next person. Take kids for example. Many thought that a hero was a fellow wearing the cape and tights we all knew as Superman. Perhaps their hero was Batman or the Lone Ranger or Robin Hood who robbed from the rich to give to the poor.
But as we grew older we used the same eyes and starting seeing things a little bit different. And now even the younger Americans and Canadians hopefully are seeing their heroes a little different. And rightly so!
Here's an example...
While Remembrance Day has passed for this year... ever day should be a day to remember these men and women and their families.
Jamie Wardley, at the left and his friend Andy Moss are 2 very talented men from England.
While the military camp barber would have had some fun with these fellows, they sure do not need any adjusting of attitudes. The only thing I see missing from this picture is a medal that they should have been awarded by the British government for what they did, and for which you are about to read.
As noted above, their story just came to me last week, but it is a story from back in 2013. I think it is as important today as when it happened in the late afternoon of 21 September. A day which was, and is annually... the International Day of Peace, celebrated by literally hundreds of millions around the world.
First celebrated back in 1982, a day was set aside to provide an opportunity, in spirit and action, to forward the ideas and conditions for peace world wide. In 2013, on 21 September the United Nations General Assembly was opened, and on that very day they proclaimed the creation of the annual International Day of Peace to be recognized around the world.
Jamie and Andy have a very special talent and they wanted to use this in Remembrance of the fallen. They chose one of the very beaches to use these talents and remind the world of the terrible costs back on June 6 1944.
That's when the Allies initially landed over 156,000 troops on the several mile stretch of beach front now famous for the D Day landings and start of the Battle of Normandy.
Troop numbers landing on these same beaches would more than double on that battleground within the week. It took millions of military and civilian population to plan and prepare for the invasion. Over 11,500 aircraft, almost 900 gliders, 54,000 vehicles and close to 7,000 vessels were brought into action. Landed supplies weighed in at over 100,000 tons.
The horrible costs can best be conceptualized when you consider that by the time the battle was over in would take about 30 cemeteries to bury the remains of 110,000, from both sides of the slaughter. Battle casualties totaled over 425,000 when you add in the wounded and missing.
The task to honour such massive numbers would obviously be a major challenge for any group let alone Jamie and Andy. But they came up with a plan. And it would happen on the very day set aside as International Peace Day.
They chose to honour those who perished on the first day of the landings. Soldiers and sailors, marines and airmen, and civilians... lots of them, that came from Britain, Canada and the US. And they also came from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, and the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland. And the dead also came from Germany.
The two men wanted to honour ALL nations for the losses on that first day. And those numbers alone added up to over 9,000 who never left the beeches.
It would be here on the very beech shown above that ice and sand sculpturists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss would put their talents to work. From their British firm... Sand in Your Eye... came the plan to share with the world not only creative talents but an incredible heart felt tribute to the fallen men and women... and children that died on that beech and the immediate community on June 6 1944. They would call it The Fallen 9,000.
And here we see the test run of what was to come...
Liking what they saw, they set about to do some serious planning. This included a trip to Normandy to check out the beeches, and find a great work space to carry out the plan. They also had to factor in the time it would take to create what they had in mind and timings between high and low tide and how much time they would have for "boots on the ground."
The Fallen 9,000 plan called for the creation of a silhouette that would represent a life size figure of one of the fallen heroes. Actually there were several different images created. And several complete sets of each were needed. Actually probably many many many sets. For you see Jamie and Andy planned on carving out in the sands of the beach not one or two or a dozen images... BUT 9,000 OF THEM.
When word spread about what was being planned, soon 60 volunteers came forward who wanted very much to be part of the event.
The operation began with Andy Moss actually showing the volunteers how to use the rakes to stir up the sand to create the images. After making the first one he would later say that his creation was actually... "a person who once lived, they had parents, families and friends. The person had died prematurely due to a conflict and we are marking his passing."
Jamie Wardley would later be quoted saying that..."it showed that people from all over totally understood the message behind it and I felt very overwhelming." He continued with... "this was a quiet day with a very loud statement. Those people that lost their lives are no longer with us but on Peace Day 21 September 2013 they spoke."
When all was said and done and the loud horn told all to stop as the tide was coming in and they had just finished their 9,000th image, in a mosaic that stretched about a Km along the beech, all went to high ground.
And there they waited for the tides to come in and wipe away all of their work in minutes.
The final soldier left his mark at about 10 pm and ..."it was incredibly moving." You could see the horrific casualty of war when you stood on that cliff looking down on the beech. Watching the tide come in and wash the bodies away was symbolic of all the lives lost in all wars, not just the Normandy Landing."
I will end with pleading with you to show this blog to others and to view the video about this event. It is at www.fallen9000.com.
And again a huge thanks to AE for bringing me this story.
See you next week,