November 1, 2012


Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
Our family had the opportunity to visit the Normandy region of France recently. This was something we definitely wanted to do while here in Germany. Hub is a major history buff, especially of military history, and one of his favorite parts of living in Europe is the chance to visit some of the sites he has read about. It is always a fun family trip, but also very somber, and my sweet husband becomes quite serious and gets choked up standing in these places where so many lives were sacrificed.

Utah Beach, Normandy, France
Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France.
While in Normandy, we visited Omaha and Utah Beaches, and Pointe du Hoc. We also visited the Normandy American Cemetery, which contains the graves of 9,387 American military members, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day operations, and a memorial wall with the names of 1,557 missing.
Looking out over Omaha Beach to the English Channel.
Before we went into the cemetery, we told our children that it was a place where we needed to show reverence. As we were walking on one of the beautiful paths, we came near a fork. My three-year-old whispered, "Mommy, I want to tell you a secret." So I bent my head to his ear, and he whispered, "Mommy, there are two pathways." I whispered that he was right about that, and then we kept walking toward the part of the cemetery where all the graves are located. As we walked, what my little boy said lingered in my mind and caused me to think about the choices that we have in life. We have many choices, but I think they can pretty much all be placed on one of two paths... the path of remembering and the path of forgetting. We either remember the past and learn from it enough to come to a resolution, and have it make a positive impact in our lives; or we forget it and lose the opportunity to have those important lessons shape us. This is true on a personal level, with our own life experiences, and also on a societal level, with the experiences of people throughout history.

"To these we owe the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live."

With both Veterans Day and the presidential election nearing, I was thinking about the freedom that we have to help choose the person that leads our country, and the many who have sacrificed their lives in order to preserve that freedom. Politics and politicians can be very irritating, to say the least. Whenever presidential election season comes around, I hear a lot of people say that they are not happy with either candidate. I totally get that. I always agree with one candidate on some issues, but the other candidate on other issues. Sometimes I like one candidate more as a person, but think the other would make a better president. And then there is all the negative and immature behavior of politicians and everyone else toward people who disagree with them. It's enough to make me want to just forget about it and ignore the political process. And with our high-tech lifestyle these days, it's easy to distract ourselves and live in our own little world. It's easy to choose the path of forgetting. But, if I forget about it, I'm also forgetting about all those who sacrificed to make it possible for me to have the right to be involved in the political process. I'm forgetting the lessons of the past, when people didn't have the choices we have.

I hear people sometimes say that they are not going to vote because they aren't happy with either candidate and they want to send that message. The problem is, when people don't vote, it reflects apathy, rather than dissatisfaction. If you are like me, and don't just stick with one party or the other, it can be very hard to decide who to vote for. So, when I believe that both candidates are good people, I vote on the issues. I usually have to narrow it down to one issue that I believe is the most important one at the current time and vote for the candidate that I believe will best handle that issue.

I hope that we can somehow get the message to politicians that we don't like their negative campaigns and we would really appreciate some good old-fashioned honesty, but let's do it by being involved and remembering the sacrifices that have been made to keep us free, not by giving up in frustration.

And let's also teach our children to remember.

 The Allied forces in Normandy were fighting to liberate France from Hitler, who was seeking to build an empire by stomping out the liberty of millions of people. Because of their sacrifices, France and the rest of Europe are now free, and American liberty was also preserved. I like to think that as we and others stood somberly on Omaha Beach, but also smiled, laughed and played with our kids, there were some spirits of the past watching and witnessing evidence that all they gave made a tremendous difference, not just in the large scale course of history, but in individual lives. And that they see, in the faces of children, a future that will be blessed by the lessons learned from the past and freedoms preserved by those who lived in it. I hope they see a generation of people that will choose to remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment