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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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To The Editor:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,”

Ninety-three years ago at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 an armistice was signed in a railcar at Compiègne in France ending hostilities between the Allies and Germany in the Great War to end all wars – World War I. Tragically, in the full Shakespearean sense of the word,

the folly, horror, stupidity and waste of war has raged and continues to rage into the 21st century. Last Friday, November 11, 2011, we celebrated Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, commemorating that moment and honoring those who have served in the nation’s wars.

Six years ago, three members of the Mad River community came to Yestermorrow School and asked permission to put an array of flags, each one commemorating the death of an American soldier in Iraq, in a field along Route 100. Over the past six years, these folks have faithfully maintained the memorial, and the field of flags, so reminiscent of Flanders Fields, has grown and grown to number over 6,000.

Some 20-plus years ago, that same field was a verdant pasture next to a stable which offered horseback riding and lessons to visitors to the Alpen Inn and others in The Valley. Subsequently, the top foot of soil was removed and sold turning that meadow into a kind of rural brownfield. The flags were the prettiest thing to bloom there in many years.

Two and half months ago, Hurricane Irene dumped thousands of yards of soil and gravel in the Sugarbush snowmaking pond. That soil has been removed and sorted and stored in an enormous spoils pile next to the Kingsbury Bridge. Very likely some of that soil removed from the flag field in the 1980s is resident in that pile.

Now, thanks to Sugarbush and a private donor, Yestermorrow will restore that meadow by applying six-plus inches of topsoil and amendments to regenerate that verdant meadow. So the flags must come down in the service of regeneration and the community must look to other means to honor, remember and reflect on those who gave the “last full measure of devotion.”


John Norton



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