Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Remembrance

The following post is excerpted from my travel journal to France.

10/27 Bayeux/Arromanches-les-Bains/Omaha Beach/Pointe du Hoc

I will remember this day for the rest of my life. From the Hotel Tardiff to the English Channel is a distance of only six miles. We had no difficulty finding Arromanches and the landing zone from D-Day. A steep up the road climb to the 360' museum where a film of the Battle of Normandy is shown. The films of the British and American soldiers, the civilians, the ships, gunfire, fires and destruction were incredibly sobering. We saw films of American factory workers building tanks, others of displaced French women and children pushing carts loaded with what remained of their possessions past burning and demolished villages and towns and down country roads.
More videos of wet, wounded, dying or dead soldiers and the voices of Churchill and Eisenhower saying, “ We will never give up-we will never surrender.” I'm always looking for my father in videos or photos of the war. He was a 19 year old soldier that summer of 1944 when he landed at Omaha 94 days after D-Day. I had a hard time holding it together during the 20 minute movie, especially thankful for the sacrifices these men and women gave, many of them the ultimate sacrifice, to give us the life we enjoy each day. Every American should see this place, this hallowed ground.
Sad, too, about what Dad went through, and it would seem changed the course of his life in so many ways. He laughed when I called to thank him after we saw the WWII museum in Paris. I can always be grateful that for whatever has been hard or lacking, God saved his life in Normandy so that I could be born and come to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and God as my Heavenly Father, live in a free country and be given a blessed life.

That was only reinforced as we stood at Omaha Beach and the American cemetery where thousands of American soldiers are buried. Row after row after row of white crosses and stars of David.
The French people gave the land of that cemetery to the United States so that her sons would not be buried on foreign soil. I will never forget.

Pointe du Hoc with its bunkers, craters, and barbed wire. What remains of the batteries that held guns capable of firing over a 24 mile span of shoreline.
The look-out bunkers where enemy soldiers report sighting American ships and soldiers.
Barbed wire lining the edge of sheer rock cliffs is more than one can take in, especially in an afternoon visit. The wind rips across the cliffs---how did these men survive the climb up such a wall of rock with wind tearing at their very being? Many of them sea sick or already injured. Equipment damaged in the crossing of the channel. Ropes too water-logged to be shot to the top edge of the cliff.
After these scenes in cold, cloudy, damp, windy weather (which somehow seemed so appropriate) we had little to say to one another for quite a while as we drove along the coast. Little to say except thanks to God for brave, selfless, ferocious American patriots who died to protect and preserve freedom. We will never, ever forget.