Giant portraits of WWI soldiers were drawn on beaches to remember their service—100 years after the war ended

Flickr | Arveed

Portraits of soldiers who died in World War One have been etched into the sands of a U.K. beach and the result is quite stunning. The memorial marks 100 years since the war ended and, fittingly, it falls in line with Veterans Day observance.

The portraits were titled “Pages of the Sea,” an idea that was conceived by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle.

“In the first World War, everybody left from the beaches and the harbors because there was no plane transport of any significance then,” Boyle told the BBC. “So this will have been their last sight of home — and for many of them, of course, it was their last sight of home.”

He continued, “I thought, ‘What a wonderful way to reconnect with them.'”

You can glimpse aerial views of the portraits in this video posted to Facebook by NBC Nightly News:

Boyle said the images — created on the sands of Port Ban Beach in Scotland — were made by volunteers who were given stencils and rakes to shape the larger-than-life portraits.

“We make a temporary portrait which is a reminder of your own and their mortality,” he said. “But it’s also a way that a community can gather in a public space … and we can come here and celebrate, in a way.”

Boyle said standing in the midst of the portraits also gives room for quiet reflection.

“There was a wonderful silence with just the noise of the tide beginning to pour in and cover the portraits,” he said. “It was very, very moving.”

People who experienced the exhibit in person posted photos to Instagram and shared their thoughts, many of them paying tribute to certain soldiers by sharing their names and bits of their stories. “Captain Ralph George Griffiths Cumine-Robson … Well done team,” wrote @michellet48.

And @michaellazenby shared this breathtaking shot, taken with a drone. “Spending November 11 down by the beach was such a tranquil experience and one I’ll definitely be doing again,” he wrote on Instagram. “It was humbling to be a part of Danny Boyles event today.”

On Veterans Day and always, we thank all of the men and women who have served.

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