In honor of Veterans Day…
Took a sacred walk last week, Thursday, November 7th with my family. We were visiting Normandy, France which is the site of the D-Day Invasion. Historians say D-Day changed the course of World War II and history as we know it.
This happened 75 years ago. As the distance grows from the date of this monumental effort, the generations of today may be losing the thread on this event and its impact.
In short, the Germans had occupied all of Europe except for Britain. The British were enduring daily bombings and were fighting hard to keep the occupation where it stood.
America had joined the war to preserve freedom and justice. They joined with the British and Canadian forces to form a courageous plan to push into France. The German army anticipated an attack. On the first day of the attack, more than 4,000 allied soldiers lost their life before securing the beach and a foothold in France. There are all sorts of movies and documentaries that give a feel for the courage and heroism displayed.
So, the sacred walk..
There’s a cemetery where American soldiers who died in the Battle of Normandy are buried. More than 9,000 of them. There is also a memorial garden where more than 1,500 soldiers who were presumed lost at sea as they headed to France are listed by name, rank, military affiliation and state. The place is pristine. Immaculate landscaping. Each grave marked by a simple, identical white cross. Each body relocated there from makeshift military cemeteries created in France during the war. Average age of the inhabitants was 24.
We honored the Americans by leaving a wreath at the Memorial. We sang the National Anthem. We heard Taps. There weren’t many dry eyes amongst us.
My wife and I took a walk around the border of the cemetery. I prayerfully reflected upon their sacrifice.
One monument said the soldiers had undertaken the fight with this in mind:
“No mission too difficult. No sacrifice to great. Duty first.”
Some of you have served our country in different times and continued to fight for the cause of freedom. You demonstrated courage and commitment. We salute you on this Veterans’ Day.
As we circled around those graves at Normandy gratitude welled up inside me. I am grateful for such courage. I prayed I would muster it if such sacrifice was ever required of me.
It occurred to me that our world today can feature much isolation and loneliness. We are raising generations where many of us aren’t required to consider such sacrifice. We can hope we never have to do so.
But we shouldn’t lose touch with what can be required to assure the life we enjoy today. We stand on the shoulders of people who gave it all. May we be found doing likewise, if it is was ever required of us.
Howe Q Wallace Jr