Friday, June 6, 2014


I was 17; it was my first trip outside of the U.S. I was with a group from my high school, partnered with students from two other American schools. Of course we saw Paris, Versailles, the Loire Valley, the Bayeux Tapestry, Mont St. Michel, Monmartre, and Notre Dame de Paris. As much as I loved the churches and castles, full of history and intrigues, what struck me the most was the American Cemetery at Normandy. Words cannot begin to describe the sight of row after row of white crosses, almost as far as the eye can see. An occasional Star of David interrupts the rows of white crosses. Even pictures struggle to capture the enormity of the cemetery. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, 9,386 Americans are buried in the Normandy cemetery; 14,000 others were originally buried in the area, but their bodies were returned home at the request of their families. At the base of the monument there was a slip of paper encased in plastic listing the names and ages of young men who lied about their ages in order to be able to enlist; the youngest was 12. It was just two weeks after the 50th anniversary of D-Day; the welcome the people of Normandy gave to even American students was humbling. As we visited the D-Day beaches, museum, and cemetery, we encountered a few veterans, their memories and pride clear on their faces. 

Twenty years have passed, and I am still very much in awe of those young men, most them younger than I am now. Though they were scared, they followed orders, did what needed to be done. How can we not be humbled by their sacrifice?

Would You Be A Grandfather Today?

Fifty years ago you took these beaches,
From the Nazi Germans who had taken France,
You died here, in Normandy, so very far from home.
My grandfathers fought this war, too,
But they survived, returned home, raised families.
Would you have done this, too?
Standing here, looking at your marble crosses, 
I realize that had they not survived, I would not be here today.
If you had survived the D-Day beaches,
Would you be a grandfather today?                        

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking a lot about D-day lately. I didn't know one of the soldiers only the 12. I would love to go to Normandy someday.