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England is a garden

From the archive: The late Sir John Keegan on the peculiarly English sense of belonging created by the War Graves Commission.

By John Keegan   November 1997

I wouldn’t mind,” I heard a woman’s voice sobbing at my elbow, “I wouldn’t mind if my son had been killed if he could have lain here.” Tears streamed down her kindly face. She clutched my elbow. “I wouldn’t mind.” There was a scent of roses and mown grass, the reflection of sunlight from white Portland stone, a cool and gentle Mediterranean breeze, the promise of heat to come. “I wouldn’t mind.”

We were two English people in a primal English setting: greensward, shrubs, flowering perennials, paved walks with saxifrage rooted in the cracks, low walls, statuary and masonry-an English…

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