The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 6 June 2016

I've picked sea-shells where heroes walked

The drive from Paris to Normandy was supposed to take three hours at the most. But Madame GPS, as my son nicknamed her, decided to take us on the scenic route. So after close to six hours of driving, we finally pulled into the driveway of Le Vaumicel. It was getting late, and grey clouds were gathering overhead, but nothing could keep us way from the D-Day  beaches. It was what we had come here for. Ten minutes later, we were getting out of the car and walking on Omaha beach. The three of us went our separate ways. I took a few paces and then stopped, as a chilling realisation hit me like a stray bullet: behind me, German bunkers were built into the rock;  in front of me, miles and miles of sand and open sea. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

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On that fateful, stormy morning, that is retreating further and further into the realms of memory, thousands of men waded ashore, into the line of fire, staring death fully in the face. I couldn't, for the life of me, imagine the courage it must have taken, the willingness to sacrifice self for the greater good of humanity. I felt awed, humbled, completely at a loss for words, awash with emotions that I could not even name.

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The tide was out and, as I walked slowly on the wet sand, I noticed the sea-shells. I bent down and gently started to gather them. They were fragile, little things - chipped, broken, incomplete. None were completely intact. The storms, the tides and the ever-restless sea had taken their toll. And as I held them between numb fingers and turned them over, those little shells reminded me of those men whose maimed and twisted bodies had lain, like the sea-shells, on the beaches of Normandy over seventy years ago.

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I walked back towards the shore with tears in my eyes and noticed, for the first time, the roses that had been left on the sand, the little wooden crosses to commemorate loved ones, fallen comrades, men who were gone too soon.

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I came back with much more than memories from Omaha beach and someday, when perhaps the world will choose to forget the ultimate sacrifice that was made there and on the other beaches of northern France, I will tell my grandchildren that I'd picked sea-shells where heroes had walked; where heroes had died.

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Location:  Omaha Beach (Vierville-sur-Mer & St Laurent-sur-Mer), Normandy, France

March 2016

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6 comments:

  1. Beautiful post Prayers and tears

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  2. I was in Normany in Houlgate 2 years ago, but we didn't go there, a too sad place for holidays !

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  3. Having just been to Normandy myself, I can attest to the power of emotion one can feel at what transpired on those beaches. Beautiful images and words, Loree.

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  4. OMG That was BEAUTIFUL...............
    IS the MODERN ART steel from the old ships?
    70 years ago is not that LONG AGO!Heck I'm almost 56!!!!!!
    WHAT AN IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU MADE WITH YOUR SON!
    XX

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  5. Dear Loree what a lovely post friend. Love your words" picked sea-shells where heroes walked; where heroes had died." You know how to put your thoughts into awesome words. Wonderful tribute. Have a great week. Hugs!

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  6. Dear Loree what a lovely post friend. Love your words" picked sea-shells where heroes walked; where heroes had died." You know how to put your thoughts into awesome words. Wonderful tribute. Have a great week. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by. I read and appreciate every one of your comments. I will do my best to reply whenever I can.

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