Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"No Crystal Ball"

Some may have noticed I've said very little about Belgium's ongoing political crisis. I feel a bit awkward discussing the issue, since I'm an outsider. Still, I must say it will be a terrible tragedy and loss if Belgium falls apart. Hugo Biets, alderman of Tongeren, cut to the heart of the matter in an address to mark Armistice Day in 2006. (The speech is published in Dutch and French at ProBelgica). Like Biets, I often wonder: if Belgium splits up, what will become of such commemorations? Who will remember all the heroic men and women, Flemings and Walloons, combatants and noncombatants alike, who sacrificed their lives in defense of united Belgium in both world wars? The soldiers, doctors, nurses, resistance fighters, political prisoners, the victims of oppression, deportation, torture and execution? I also wonder: what will become of the memory of Belgium's kings and queens, who dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to their realm? Whatever their qualities or failings as individuals, I firmly believe they have all shared an intense, generous patriotism. What will happen to their monuments and memorials? Will the Royal Crypt of Laeken, for example, become merely a forlorn relic of a past régime? What of Queen Astrid's memorial chapel in Switzerland, where King Albert II commemorated the 75th anniversary of his mother's tragic demise, less than a month ago? Will there be a Belgian National Day in 2011? Let's hope so. Yet, sadly, I cannot help feeling more and more pessimistic.

2 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

You must be doing a good job, I had no idea you were an "outsider" at all. Of course that never stops me giving an opinion, wanted or otherwise. I havn't talked too much about this myself. There is a danger of becoming complacent. When these scares have come up in the past I tend to get hysterical, then have everyone tell me it's nothing to worry about, the news moves on and I become emotionally exhausted and drop it.

I completely agree about the memorials and commemorations etc. It astounds me that a country that has been through so much together can have so many people who would behave in such a way as to risk division. So many people have suffered and sacrificed so much for the independence and unity of Belgium it would be unspeakable for it to all come to an end.

Matterhorn said...

It would be so, and it is difficult to actually imagine Europe without Belgium at this point. But then, many things that would have been considered "unspeakable" in previous times have happened throughout history. I know the way this Belgian situation keeps going, there are alot of scares and then the agitation dies down, over and over, etc., but it's disturbing because I can't get away from the fact that the trend seems to be towards division.