I apologize for the delayed new post. I had a bunch written ahead of time for when life got crazy, but they all disappeared, who knew that would happen? I don’t know where they went, but maybe they will reappear one day and that will be like a little gift out of nowhere, like when you find a $5.00 in your pants pocket that you thought you had spent! Anyway, life has been pretty crazy lately. with health related issues for family and friends, my new job, some traveling, and trying to get back into the groove of exercising, time flies. Other than the health issues, all has been good. I am getting close to count down mode right now, my husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland and England to visit some family (my sister is moving to England with her family on June 10th) and to see a wonderful friend get married and graduate from veterinary school. I have been to Europe twice before, once in 1998 with Northland College to study the history of War and Peace in Europe and attend the Third Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in the Netherlands and once in 2011 with my husband for a friend’s wedding in Ireland and to visit some veterinary friends in France. These were both amazing experiences.
When I traveled to Europe with Northland College, we spent some time in England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. There was a brief stint in Belgium as well, but we were just driving through and got yelled at by the bathroom attendants. As a quick note, if you travel to Europe, take your own toilet paper and be prepared to pay to use the toilets! One of the most somber and amazing points of the trip was visiting the cemetery at Normandy Beach. Yesterday, July 6th, was D-Day, a day of remembrance for so many people who lost their lives storming the beaches of northern France. The ground has been flattened and groomed, the grass is well maintained and white headstones are aligned in rows to honor those fallen.
At the corner of one seconded stood a stone that read “Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known but to God.” When I saw this stone, I cried. No one knows the name of the body, or parts thereof, that lies beneath the stone.
Did the family know he was gone? Did they hope and pray that he was coming home? Did they think he was a POW or lost in action unable to contact them? Did they keep their hopes alive that he would come home one day, but think that they had been abandoned? Did he have a family at all? All of these questions ate at my heart for those left behind and for the man who hopefully did not die alone amongst the sea of men around him. After visiting with this plot and praying for this man and letting him know he was loved, I walked around a bit.
As you walk to the edge of the cemetery, there is a barbed wire fence that looks down toward the beach. There are signs all over that say not to cross, there are still land mines and wild boars (I think a potentially bad combination) present on the slope between the water, the beach, and the barbed wire. As I was watching the scene ahead of me, I saw a speck moving down below, it was a person running on the beach. That person was so small in the distance. That is when the situation hit me even harder. I have seen video of the D-Day landing, of the waves crashing over the boats and men wading to shore, of men falling as they ran up the beach amidst the fire from above. I had a picture in my mind of all of this, but my mind created a scenario where it wasn’t that far once they reached land. I don’t know why, but I had. These men had a long way to run up the beach and hill with no cover, no protection from the bullets coming at them. I shivered despite the sunshine and warmth of that day. I could hear the cries in my head of men that were trying to save the world, but at that moment wanted to be home in the arms of their families, surrounded by love not pain and death. This day was the first time that war became real to me. I have always been fascinated with history and the people and situations with it. I haven’t been interested in the battles and war itself, but rather the impact on people and society. I am thankful for the men and women that have fought to keep the world free, but I am saddened that they have had to fight.
Hug a soldier today. Hug your loved ones. At this point, hug a stranger (with permission of course). Our world needs more love.