The Last Post under the Menin Gate
Ever since 1928, the Last Post has been sounded under the Menin Gate every evening at 8.00pm. The organisation of this daily ceremony is the responsibility of the Last Post Association.
The Last Post, traditionally the last salute to the fallen warrior, is played in memory of the soldiers of the then British Empire and Allied Forces who fell in the Ypres Salient during the First World War.
In the four great battles around the city of Ypres more than 250,000 soldiers of the British Empire (mainly British, Canadian, Australian, New -Zealand, Indian, Pakistani and South- African troops) lost their lives. More than 100,000 of these soldiers have no known grave, of whom 54,896 are commemorated by name on the Menin Gate. Many other Allied soldiers, including more than 50,000 Frenchmen, as well as Americans and Belgians, also fell in the Ypres Salient.
Awed and inspired by the scale of this sacrifice, a number of Ypres citizens suggested that it would be appropriate to organise a daily Last Post ceremony, as a token of gratitude for those who fought and fell for the restoration of peace and the independence of Belgium. This led to the foundation of the Last Post Association. The Menin Gate was chosen as the most fitting location for the ceremony, since it was through this town gate that most of the soldiers had marched off to the front, many never to return.
The buglers of the association are traditionally recruited from the local volunteer fire brigade.
Over the years this sober and serene ceremony has become an inseparable part of life in Ypres and the City of Peace, as Ypres is also known, is proud of this unique tribute to those who died for the restoration of peace.
The international renown of the Last Post ceremony is great. Along with innumerable veterans, pilgrims and visitors, a great number of prominent people have also attended the Last Post: members of royal families, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, dozens of government and military leaders and so many others.
We remember that on the ‘other side’ many soldiers also lost their lives. Enemies then, but partners now in a United Europe. In this sense the Last Post not only reflects the tragic events of our past, but is also a sign of hope for the future.
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