"This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed by the ideals, the valor and the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen." American Cemetery, Omaha Beach.
Today I visited the D-Day beaches in Normandy with my family. I have been looking forward to this day and dreading it, knowing it would be difficult. I had prepared for the day by reading the book The Longest Day, which tells the story of June 6, 1944. That day when thousands gave their lives to bring freedom to millions. I knew what happened here. And I didn’t. Reading a book could never prepare me for standing amidst 9,387 white-marble crosses and Stars of David.
It’s difficult to look squarely into such pain and sacrifice, all the while knowing each man whose life is represented here was a son, brother, husband, father, or grandson. But we must. It's how we honor them.
We walked to the far corner of the cemetery, knowing it is likely the least visited. We wanted to see the names of those men who gave everything for us.
So I walked and walked past hundreds, thousands of crosses. Saying their names. Thanking them. It wasn’t easy and there were tears. As I sat on the sands of Omaha beach this afternoon, I prayed I would live a more purposeful life for having been here today. That I would live a more thankful life.
So I honor their sacrifice by sharing in this tiny way what they experienced. Remembering their lives. Their deaths. Saying their names, so they can live on in my memory. In my thankfulness. In my freedom.
|Thank you William|
|Thank you Jerome|
|Thank you Michael|
Thank you for my freedom.