– Or Emily is Going To Accost You With More Description –
Yes! Another exercise in description. It’s happening. Hold on to your hats.
“It’s just a ditch, really.”
Well, of course it’s just a ditch, if you’re just looking at it. It fits the colloquial description of a ditch – low depression, usually made for draining water out of an otherwise flat field, but in this case they’re probably just totally normal scars in the landscape. Except they’re not. Except that a synonym for ditch is, in fact, trench.
It’s a trench – and what you fail to see for your act of just looking is that they are important and are more deserving of description than your – ever so clever – ‘just a ditch, really.’ This is a trench where people lived, ate, slept, read, and died. Rotted away, in some cases. Drowning in their own fluids in others. It’s a trench, in a country field in the east of France, where soldiers fought one of the worst wars in human history. More than a ditch, really. Closer to a grave, actually.
I could show you a picture, but I don’t want to – perhaps because standing here in a grass covered trench on a narrow brick pathway that, oh, close to 100 years ago now, was covered in at least an inch of water, mud on both sides, and miles upon miles of barbed wire, makes me a tad emotional. Though, that’s as much of an understatement as ‘ditch,’ considering I am about as close to all out sobbing right now as I ever plan to be in public. The history and importance of this place has that effect on me, I think.
You’re going on about how you don’t see the point in memorializing this place and I consider describing the effects of chlorine gas on the body and exactly what that looks like while you are desperately trying to flee the grenades and machine gun fire of the Germans just that side of No Man’s Land, but I don’t. I don’t because you don’t internalize history like I do. The images I would paint would shock you, gross you out, but little more than that. The horror of ancient battle formations meeting brutally efficient new technologies is lost on you, as it is lost on many, because it won’t happen again. A World War III would be all atomic bombs, incineration, and nuclear fallout – history won’t necessarily repeat itself.
But it still moves me to tears, because these trenches, these unassuming ditches in the French countryside, show cased the brutality of the human race, and the terrible things soldiers were made to suffer in the war that began, frankly, because everyone wanted ‘a good war.’ And they got one. Because it was a good war, really, if you just look at it.