Today’s adventure involved a couch bus and 2 hour ride outside the city to Cambridge, England where some of the world’s most prestigious colleges reside. We were lucky enough to get access to the Kings College Chapel, an opportunity not many people have the chance to do. The ancient stained glass window panes are so beautiful and carefully put together to tell a story. Ever since I was a kid I have always loved the pretty colored windows of churches but never realized how each piece tells a story within a bigger picture.
Our next excursion took us to the Madingley Military Cemetery just a few miles up the road. I had no idea an American cemetery from World War II even existed or that we would be visiting so it was a pretty amazing experience. Madingley is the only US military cemetery in the whole United Kingdom. It contains over 3000 buried men and women, not only soldiers who were enlisted but anyone who died helping in one way or another during the war. There is also a wall of over 5000 missing, people that were never found after the war ended.
It was so breathtaking to be in a cemetery across the pond that honors Americans that died so we can live the way we do today. It amazed me the amount of bodies that were buried there and how many were still missing to this day. The society that keeps the cemetery running is still making efforts to look for soldiers who are “missing in action” or making family connections. It made me so sad to see all the names up on the wall, I can’t image how the family members felt to receive a letter saying their kin was missing. Waiting all those years with hope that one day they would be found but never having a confirmation one way or the other. Each name, plaque and headstone communicate a little about each person who made the ultimate sacrifice for our future.
At the end of our walk through, it was 4:30pm, time to lower the flag. I volunteered to help fold the flag when it was taken off the pole. Both my grandpas who served in the military passed away in the past two years and our family was given the folded flag to honor them. But I wasn’t doing the folding, just watching it handed over as a sign of respect. It was extremely powerful to be able to experience the folding process because in a way I felt like I was paying my respects to all the victims who laid to rest in the cemetary. Overall, I was swept away with a range of emotions today. I was left with plenty to think about on our 2 hour ride back to London.