Powerful, Sobering,and Concerning....Normandy American Cemetery
I've heard about June 6,1944.
I've watched "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers".
I've listen to the stories shared by WWII veterans but somehow until your here, on the cliffs looking out over Omaha and Utah beaches, with the 9,387 headstones behind you...it just doesn't resonate.
Tour buses of every nationality empty into the parking lots and this spill of humanity is remarkably somber. Instinctively voices are lowered to a respectful whisper. The demographic of guests is clear.
The baby boomers remember their parents angst. They remember their Uncle or grandfather and the stories. They are here, like me, to honor and thank this generation for their sacrifice.
Missing from the tourists this day, any one under 40.
Sure there are some school groups. But those kids are too busy flirting with each other or texting on their cell phones to really take this place in.
We wondered out loud if "the greatest generation" will truly be lost when our generation is no longer here to care? What if years from now these protected memorials fall into disrepair and are lost to development because the lack of stewardship.
We walk down the center mall of the cemetery and stop like hundreds of other Americans visiting when we hear the National Anthem over the loud speakers. The Americans stop, face the flag and wait until the song is complete to continue their visit.
This training from childhood made the non-Americans stand out as they continued to browse the gravestones.
Then it dawned on us. Maybe this act of respect is no longer taught? Isn't our anthem more associated with "ball games" these days? Secretly, I know several of us wanted to yell "play ball" when the song ended. Training.
We walked to the chapel reading the stats:
Latin crosses 9,238
Stars of David 149
Missing in action 1,557
Sets of Brothers 45
Medal of Honor recipients 3
I placed some small American flags at graves of unknown soldiers. Several visitors bought flowers to lay on the graves.
Gun shots get our attention. We turn to look back toward the main memorial and the the bugle sounds the haunting sound of "Taps".
The sniffles start. The Kleenex are pulled from pockets and purses throughout the cemetery.
Kids. Just young adults doing what their country asked them to do... 16-40 year old soldiers memorialized here. On this hallowed ground.
So grateful to have made this visit. Photos to follow as they are on my camera not my phone.