The past came powerfully and poignantly to life for local teenagers recently as they made a pilgrimage to the World War 1 battlefields of Belgium and France.
A hundred years after the guns fell silent, 15-year-old Ben Downey form Lurgan joined cadets from across Northern Ireland to learn about the unprecedented loss of life in ‘the war to end all wars’.
Accompanied by expert guides, the Cadets toured museums and cemeteries and explored the trench and tunnel systems where so many fought and died, and discovered that many of those who sacrificed their lives were themselves little more than teenagers.
It was an emotional, and occasionally overwhelming, experience for the young visitors, as well as an opportunity to deepen their understanding.
Colonel David McCleery OBE from Army Cadet Force Association Northern Ireland explained: “Our Cadets learn about World War 1 at school, but nothing quite prepares you for the impact of visiting the region. Our young people were deeply moved by everything they saw and learned during their visit and, in particular, none of us will ever forget the sad sight of landscapes filled with row upon row of carefully-tended military graves.”