Normandy on memorial day
01.06.2011 - 01.06.2011 75 °F
We had the incredible experience of being at the United States memorial at Omaha Beach in Normandy on Memorial Day. Throughout this trip there have been moments of feeling a great honor being an American and sometimes hesitation in our previous actions as a country. But always pride that we are citizens of the greatest country in the world.
When we first arrived in France and realized Memorial Day was going to be in a few days, we decided that we would rent a car and drive to the north coast to see where the American troops first came ashore during D-Day. This was of particular interest after seeing the plaque outside of the Dachau Concentration camp that read “this camp was liberated by the American forces in 1944…..”. I knew being at the American memorial would be special, but being there on Memorial Day would be even heavier.
When you first arrive at the memorial, you enter through the modern museum that explains the war in great detail and shows how Europe needed our help to survive the atrocities of the German powers. The museum was very well done and simple and elegant, there was a quote carved into the stone, just before you walk among the gravestones that says something to the effect of “ ….if ever there was a question into the motives of our intervention, we were not there to conquest but rather help. All we asked for in return was a place to bury our heroes where they died…..”, it really moved me to see that our sacrifices were simply to help other nations in need and not take over their land.
When you first walk onto the grounds you can see nothing but white gravestones, perfectly in line, as far as you can see. There are over 9,000 gravestones, which appear to be much more than it sounds, they are in perfect lines from every angle and the grounds are perfectly manicured. Crosses, Star of Davids and blank headstones were all that existed. There was an American flag and French flag placed in front of every gravestone, in perfect symmetry. It felt very heavy emotionally and yet a place of such somber energy, somehow gave hope and pride for the country we are from. America is the greatest country in the world and the sacrifices our citizens have made for the rest of the world could not have been more evident than the day we spent at Normandy.
In the words of my father in law "Freedom is not Free". And this I can attest to after seeing such a tribute to our armed forces.