Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start – the good D-Day – of summer. Barbecues, corn-on-the cob, picnics, swimming in pools newly opened for the season, we can hardly wait to start the celebration! In the midst of our carefree fun in the new summer sun, some will stop to watch a parade, wave a flag, attend a ceremony. These are the people who remember that Memorial Day is not meant to memorialize happy summers past and welcome the new one, but for honoring those who died so that the living might have their summers in freedom. I am remembering this as I post some photos here that my daughter took of the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, during her spring break school trip this year. The photos are the one thing (besides herself) I asked her to bring back for me. Well, and a key chain from Paris which I did not get, but that’s another story.
I cannot help but feel, looking at the endless rows of pristine crosses, a great sadness at the magnitude of life that had to be wasted because of the arrogance of leaders happy to sacrifice their own countrymen for their own ambitions, and forcing other countries to defend themselves. And for all the crosses of the valiant who died fighting for their country, right or wrong, there are other crosses and stones marking the graves of civilian casualties. On Memorial Day, we must remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, and remember the hell on earth that is war.
This is but a simple field
So long and flat and wide
Where shamelessly I shed the tears
I do not try to hide.
This bit of ground is hallowed now
Some friends of mine are here
They sleep the sleep they earned so much
They’ll awake with not a care.
My friends they were and will remain
and yours they should be too
For men like these are worth so much
-unknown, handwritten on a scrap of paper