Last summer, on a vacation in France, my husband and I visited Normandy.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I only knew what happened on Omaha Beach from watching the movie Saving Private Ryan. But being there in person, seeing that place where so many died to liberate others and defend our freedoms, was gut-wrenching and humbling.
As I wrote back in August, to me “World War II was synonymous with the Holocaust and the death of six million Jews. I knew, of course, that millions of others died as well, but my view was myopic and very personal. Then I visited the Normandy…Omaha Beach, Arromanche, and the American Cemetery. I was moved deeply by the sacrifices made to fight evil.”
At that cemetery, I lost it. For it was there, “upon seeing an occasional Star of David grave marker amidst thousands of crosses, I realized how very wrong I’ve been. The war was full of narratives and themes — representing different truths — from which we all can learn and grow.” Yes, there were victims. But there were heroes too.
This morning I caught a glimpse of that cemetery again. This time on the Today show. Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of D-Day. A lump formed in my throat. The losses on that day were staggering and, hearing the story and seeing the images again, made my eyes well. The stories of the featured survivors resonated, especially given the fact I was raised on my grandparents’ stories of those days. Theirs were lessons of loyalty, bravery, and hope.
Memories and lessons to share with each new generation. May we never forget. And May their memories be for a blessing.