Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

In honor of the upcoming anniversary of D-day on June 6, 1944, I wrote a storoem (see below) about the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France where the American soldiers who were killed or missing in action on the beaches at Normandy and shortly thereafter in the push inland are buried or memorialized. If you are unfamiliar with this cemetery, check out this link and be sure to look at the pictures there, especially the aerial overview:

We owe these gallant soldiers homage forever for their actions back then.

Now, my new storoem:

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The son has brought his ninety-three-year-old
father to Colleville-Sur-Mer in France.
Overlooking Omaha Beach is told
the terrible price of freedom. Winds dance

through a field of cold, white marble crosses
marking graves of Americans who died
freeing France from her cruel Nazi bosses.
As they traverse the colonnade, his pride

causes the father to stand taller, straighter
than normal. “Here, my generation saved
the world from tyranny. There’s no greater
sacrifice for country then these men paid.”

They pass “Spirit of American Youth”,
a bronze statue near the center, before
reaching rows of white crosses, where the truth
is shown recounting death on this French shore.

More than nine thousand American graves
hold the unfulfilled dreams of the young men
who died upon Normandy Beach, its waves
red with their blood. They did their duty then!

Names inscribed on the memorial’s walls
pay silent tribute to another fifteen-
hundred missing soldiers, their country’s calls
to battle answered with a fate so mean.

Father and son join other tourists’ search
among the rows of crosses to find friends’
or family’s graves. There’s a feel of church,
since many pray, as tribute each extends.

The father is himself a veteran
of the D-day invasion, wounded twice.
He, who never spoke of war, has begun
to recall details, brutal and precise.

As they stand before graves, he says, “This man
once saved my life…I watched this soldier die.
He was just a teenager; still I can
see his face as he died, the look of ‘Why?'.”

On and on they walk pass graves, so many
holding his past fallen comrades in arms.
“I saved this friend’s life more than once; plenty
of times he cheated death. He died in my arms.”

On this day the son learns for the first time
details of what his father once endured.
He hears of war’s horror; nothing’s sublime
or glorious in combat, Dad assured.

Father and son sit for hours as the dad
tells of anguish he saw as a man dies.
As he relates what he did, he grows sad.
The son tries to comfort him as he cries.

As his body shakes with sobs, the dad says,
“Each soldier buried here in French soil has earned
the everlasting gratitude of his
country. Honor those who never returned.”

NOTE: The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
is near the site for the American St. Laurent Cemetery, which
was established on June 8, 1944, as the first American cemetery
on European soil in World War II. The current cemetery is located
on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel.
It is 170 miles west of Paris. The 172.5-acre site has the graves
of 9,387 Americans who died coming ashore on D-day on June 6,
1944, or shortly thereafter in the push inland. Another 1,557 missing
soldiers have their names inscribed on the memorial’s walls.
Millions of visitors have come to visit this cemetery.



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