A small parade towards the Great War. The cultural militarization of Remembrance Day in Belgium, 1870-1914
Een kleine parade naar de Grote Oorlog. De militarisering van de Belgische national feesten, 1870-1914
Faculty of Arts. History
University of Antwerp
This paper presents a new perspective on Belgian civil-military relations in the decades before World War One. 'Brave little Belgium' played a central role in the war effort, but it is seldom connected to pre-war militarization in western Europe. On the contrary, Belgium has been categorized as an antimilitaristic nation. By mapping the civil-military interactions during Remembrance Day, this article aims to shed light on forgotten militarization processes in the cultural domain. The assessment of military elements in the ceremonial landscape nuances the traditional perspective of a broad civil-military gap in Belgian society. It is indeed true that an official military cult was virtually absent from the national festivities. Nonetheless, this research unveils a process of civilian militarization that was previously overlooked. From 1890 onwards militaristic associations and local authorities jointly instigated promotion of the military through parades, war commemorations, and demonstrations.