…..yet not peaceful.
I hear the echo of sobs, of the dying, of the survivors, of the men here and of their mothers five thousand miles away. I think of how hard it must have been to decide to let their sons and daughters stay buried here, so very far from home.
The view comes with a price that is counted but not measured.
You see it in photographs, in news reports… But standing here, Omaha Beach to your back, graves to your front, wailing wind to your face… This is something else.
I spend the next 25 minutes walking through the cemetery – listening to facts, taking photos, asking no questions and swallowing lumps of sorrow from the back of my throat until I can’t swallow anymore and sink to my knees before a cross for a boy from Ohio.
How can I explain?
In the wind, I hear the bullets. In the serenity, I hear the sobs. In the hard-won peace, I feel the pain. I’m not being poetic. This is what I see and what I hear, vividly, as my knees feel the deep-green grass soft as pillows.
So the agony of thousands of souls fertilized these fields during World War II. And the warrior Vikings and the Norsemen long before them.
The crosses & stars that mark each grave are Italian white marble. $26 each. The Italians offered a bargain price, and American engineers laid concrete beams below ground so the crosses will never shift. Perfect symmetry forever.
Tradition dictates graves face East. But these graves face West… home.
Dog tag numbers are etched on the back of each marker. Unless they are known only to God.
No birth dates to be seen, only dates of death, making them all equally ageless.
I can write more. But this is where I’ll stop. I know nothing I ever read or saw from afar conveyed what the wailing wind across my face revealed to me. So I leave you with my words, short as they may fall… and the photo of the first tomb I saw in Normandy, where the soil once soaked in blood and the wind still remembers.