|Early morning in the Normandy countryside|
This post was written after my first trip to Normandy. Spending only one day exploring is certainly not enough time. I could have spent all day walking on the beaches, looking across the channel and try to image that fateful day in June. It should be a must for every American to visit the beaches and the American Cemetery. For those young men the saying all men gave some and some gave all rings loudest at the cemetery. Rows of rows of markers for the sons that did not make it home. Freedom of world rested with them. Nothing can prepare you for the openness of the beach to be standing where they were running for their lives. The noise, the smoke the confusion of that morning are quiet now. Except for the cries from the sea birds and the faint sound of the waves crashing it is a very solemn place, at least for me. I wanted to repost and add some more commentary to it. So this Veterans Day November 11 at the 11 hour pause and reflect for those who have served and are serving. And remember.
After traversing hot and arid landscapes through Spain, Canary Islands and Morocco the lush landscapes of Normandy were a welcome change. The light was golden as it the filtered through the yellow leaves of autumn. The nice cool morning was peaceful as our
bus rolled through the countryside. Fog still hung low in the valleys, cows
were out grazing in the pastures and the apples trees heavy with fruit passed
by the windows in a flash.
The first destination was the to see the American Cemetery then on to the landing beaches of Omaha. However, we lucked out; the tide on the beaches was at low tide rising just like on the morning of D Day. For the Americans the invasion started at 6:30 and for the British and Canadians it was to come at 7:30.
|low tide, Omaha beach|
|low tide, Omaha beach|
However, standing on that beach, the words that come to mind
are vast and expansive. It is hard to put into words what it must have been
like for the young men. If they made it off the boats slogging through soft
sand with a rifle, pack wet uniform and boots. How loud and confusing that morning
must have been. The solitude for me on that beach, was overwhelming.
|Les Braves Memorial, by Anilore Banon added in 2004|
I took my pictures, gathered up my sand, and boarded the bus
for the American Cemetery.
The American Cemetery is the hallowed ground of the remains of the soldiers who died during the invasion. The French donated that plot of land to American so you are actually on American soil while in the cemetery. It is the final resting place of 9,386 American soldiers. It is truly humbling to be among the rows of those who sacrificed everything. The volunteers can assist you in locating your family if you need help. It was not crowded while we were there and it was quiet walking on the path by the sea passing row after row. People are not laughing or goofing off this is a place of reverence and reflection. I can only image what it must be like to have a family member buried here.
As you walk up to the semi-circle maps of the battle plans are engraved and flank both sides of the monument. Standing there, you only see a part of it, for you have to crest the hill to get the true magnitude of this place. Sons, fathers, brothers all lay silent as you gaze on row upon row of crosses and stars of David mark this hallowed ground. Even those only known to God rest here.
|Known only to God|