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In South Africa: Remember Us. November 23, 2010

Posted by Jenny in Boer War, history, memoir, military history.
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Some of the graves did not even have markers

This is the most important thing about my trip to South Africa. And this is my final report about the trip. This was more important than my wildlife sightings, and more important than my experiences of the battlefields. We visited the sites of many people who died, and thanks to the Anglo-Boer War Museum, we placed a commemorative flower at each site. It was an artificial flower—which lasts a long time—and a statement about our honoring of the dead.

I think everyone who went on our tour of the Natal battlefields placed one of these flowers at an appropriate site. And for me, the wonderful thing was the connection between the person of the present and the person (or people) of the past.

Here we had the flag of the Orange Free State.

Here we all are.

I was very honored to be asked to place the flower at Surprise Hill.

Grave of an unknown soldier (at Spionkop). Many, many died without being known.

This actually turned out to be funny. He had a fleece jacket that said "Oxford Union Crew." When the Boer descendants objected to this Anglo attire, he removed the jacket only to have a T-shirt that said "Tommie personnel" (though it only referred to the Thomas School, not to the "Tommies" who were the foe in the war).

He still had Anglo-oriented attire, much to everyone's amusement!

This grave made me weep, even though it was an English journalist rather than a Boer fighter.

The memorial reads, “George Warrington Steevens: War Correspondent of the Daily Mail. He died of enteric fever during the siege of Ladysmith 1900 aged 31 years. This cross is sent from his broken-hearted wife from the country he loved so well, her hearth is left unto her desolate.”

He wrote brilliant and insightful dispatches from the besieged town of Ladysmith. I cried when I saw this.

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