Monday, July 21, 2014

Long Live Belgium!

The twenty-first of July, 1916, dawned a wonderful, sunny day. The entire city was green. Every one had a green ribbon, signifying hope, in his buttonhole; every dog had a green ribbon round his neck; every horse had one on his bridle; every house and every store had green paper pasted in the windows. Every shop and store was open, but everywhere green was in sight. The Germans understood, but were helpless. One particular place in the city where the Belgian martyrs were buried gave the Germans especial concern. There a guard of soldiers with fixed bayonets had been placed to prevent any demonstration. The Belgians found the matter simple. The entire city of Brussels walked through that street sometime during the day, and, as they passed the spot where the martyrs had fallen, they simply bowed their heads. The rules did not cover this point, and all day the officers and soldiers stood there, witnessing this tremendous demonstration made in their very faces, without being able in the least to do anything.
At the churches, service was held and the crowds were so great that not an additional person could have entered one of the buildings. That was the point. The churches were so full that the police could not get in. At least twelve thousand people were supposed to have been in the largest church. The Germans raged but were helpless. At the Cathedral the ordinary service was held and then the Dean announced that at eleven o'clock a funeral service would be held for the Belgian soldiers who had fallen in the war. It was sung by Cardinal Le Mercier with great pomp and dignity. The Cardinal sang the service in a voice shaken by emotion and then delivered a patriotic address which stirred the very souls of the thousands present.
On the national holiday, despite the German prohibition, they were celebrating their resistance and the Germans could not interfere! They sang the national song, and suddenly there rang through the building a shout—"Long live the King!" And despite requests that no demonstration be made, a tremendous shouting and cheering rose, swelled, broke, and reechoed through the vast spaces of the Cathedral. "Long live the King! Long live Belgium! Long live the Queen! Long live the Cardinal! Long live the Army!" Hats were thrown in the air, handkerchiefs were wildly shaken, people wept, laughed, fell on each others' necks. The soul of Belgium, repressed for two years, suddenly burst the bonds placed upon it by the German government and gave voice to its true feeling. (Read full article)


Christina said...

Absolutely brilliant passive resistance!

May said...

Yes, I don't know how anyone can say Belgium is not a "real" country.