This first ran in November of 2006 on the original Blonde Champagne, as part of a series on a business trip to France and Monaco.
After Omaha, we stopped at the American cemetery in Normandy. The French have ceded this land to the United States, and so, half a planet away from where I was born, I stood on American soil.
The plots are on a hill near the sea where the landings took place.
It's very quiet.
We didn’t have time to examine each grave, although each cross and star deserved it. Here are a few.
There are over nine thousand just like them.
I passed one of a private from Ohio. A bird had left its mark; I pulled tissue from my pocket and wiped it clean. The sleeve of my jacket was good enough for my own eye-wiping.
This is the ceiling of the cemetery chapel. A mosaic shows America blessing her young men, sending them off to war...
…and France placing a laurel wreath on the brow of her gift.
We passed several school groups, and a few veterans– fewer each year. Here is a gift from some who left just before we reached the Memorial. The card reads: “This wreath is placed in recognition of your bravery in the Normandy campaign. From the English veterans of the Sword Beach.”
It was laid at the foot of this statue, called “The Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves.”
Every hour, a bell tolls “Faith of Our Fathers”.
And then, again, it is quiet.
These are the gates to the Garden of The Missing, which is ringed with walls bearing the names of soldiers whose remains were never recovered.
Here is how closely the names are spaced.
And here is how much wall there is…
…one side of it.
No one is ever the quite the same, after Omaha and Normandy.