The Vast Expanse of Beach and Sea

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Utah Beach, Normandy, France.

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.

Posted for Tina’s Lens-Artists Challenge #90 – Distance.

Veterans Day 2019

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.

Here is a closeup of an infinitely small section.

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The American Cemetery at Normandy                                                                Image: ©Hannah Keene

Posted for the Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bravery.