My father landed D-Day +3 on Utah Beach and survived the Second World War. Five years ago, my husband and I took a long awaited trip to France. One of the places we went was to Normandy. As I stood on this beach (the only one of the five landing beaches we were allowed to walk on), I tried to take in not only its sheer beauty, but also the enormity of what had happened here in 1944. I bent down, scooping up a large handful of sand, and held it, thinking of all the soldiers who had landed here to help liberate France and Europe. Many lost their lives in the process.
Everywhere we went in Normandy, we saw plaques, statues and museums to commemorate the beginning of the end of the war and the breaking of the Nazi’s death grip on France. I couldn’t help but be humbled by France’s gratitude.
I think the beauty, vastness and history of this beach has something to impart to us in our own troubled time. The scourge of COVID 19, like WW II, leaves us in a world with the stark differentiation of before and after. Our world has changed, never to be quite the same. I take comfort not only from the memory of the soldiers who landed on this beach, but also from the people of France. They endured great hardship and privation, yet emerged into a world they could rebuild. For me, it helps put the current #ShelterInPlace directive in perspective. Added to that I realize that while this is difficult, I am among the lucky in that my income and housing are not affected while I remain confined to my apartment, and I have access to enough food. All of that makes me think, “This is hard, but I can do this. I may at times be teary or grumpy about it, or overwhelmed, or scared, but I can do this. I must do this. It is a small price to pay to keep myself and others safe.
This is a water tank is in an old industrial section of Berkley, California. This area still has the railroad tracks that used to deliver the raw materials to places like the iron works building and the sheet metal factory. Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge of two weeks ago inspired me to Point My Camera Upwards.
Here in the States, November 11 is Veterans Day. Originally it was established as Armistice Day, the day Germany formally surrendered at the end of WW I: November 11, 1918. In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day, to honor U.S. veterans and victims of all wars.
In 2015 my husband and I took a long awaited trip to France. One of the places we visited was the American Cemetery in Normandy. The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the remains of 9,388 American soldiers. There are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942, and graves of 4 American women. But most of the graves are of those soldiers who died during the Invasion of Normandy.
It is a sobering place, as you look out over row upon row upon row of crosses and stars of David. My husband said, “There is such sadness here.” My thought was of all those men, overwhelmingly young, who would never have a chance to have a career, or fall in love, or get married, or live to see their children grow up. They would never see their lives open up before them.
When I was a little girl in the early 50’s, and then later when my family returned to the Bay Area in the late 60’s, one of the constants was the San Francisco Transbay Terminal. Built in 1939 by the famous local architect Timothy L. Pflueger, it was a huge concrete building where the trains from East Bay and then in 1959 buses from the extended Bay Area would arrive. Even long distance transportation such as Greyhound busses and Amtrak trains would pull up at the terminal. Then all you had to do was walk outside, and climb aboard one of the various forms of public transit available in the City. The East Bay cities had their transit companies and S.F. had another. But all of them worked remarkably seamlessly together. Not flawlessly, mind you, but it was a piece of cake to transfer from one system to another.
My husband and I left the Bay Area for jobs when we got married at the end of 1974. 42 years later we returned (2016), only to visibly discover what we knew from the news: the 1939 Terminal had been demolished and the new San Francisco Transbay Transit Center had been built. This was a HUGE change as you can see below. I took this photo as friends and I were inching our way towards the on-ramp for the Bay Bridge about 2 months ago. We had gone into the City to see a play, and there seemed to be an accident blocking one access to the bridge. At one point it took us half an hour to advance 5 blocks, so it was a long trip home. We laughed, we joked, we carried on, and of course I used the opportunity to take photos by leaning out the window.
Here is one photograph of the new Transit Center taken just as we entered under the overpass, and looking behind us. (It’s now named the Sales Force Transit Center). Look for the garage entrance (Enter and Do Not Enter) in the lower right of the photograph, then follow upward on the slant toward the windows and you will see the steel grid of the canopy reflected.