Monday, May 28, 2012

My Memorial Day Memory

My Memorial Day memory takes me to France. There on the beaches of Normandy I stood, a tourist, not a soldier. On the way, I was flirting with the young French guide driving me, carelessly playing with body language and eye contact. Never once did I think that where I was headed was anything more then a scratch off my history major bucket list. This was over ten years ago – but the day is still clear in my brain. By the time I left those beaches I felt thankful. Thankful to the men who never left that beach and gave me the gift of a life filled with carefree flirtation.

When I opened the door of the van it hit me immediately. The place felt alive, even though it is filled with death. It was quiet. It was pretty. The wind was blowing and it was overcast, but the crosses of the American cemetery and memorial where glowing bright, clouds could not stop the sun from reflecting life off each pristine marker.

To walk the beaches of Normandy – see the garbage of war still littered – is to understand why Memorial Day is not a day off from work; it is a day to reflect. I am not a soldier. I am not a flag-waiving patriot. I don’t get the military and I don’t feel connect to any war, peacekeeping mission or conflict I have read about or seen on the news. But I am a grateful American who walked in the path that killed many and in so doing I was forever branded with gratefulness for their sacrifice.

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