Memorial Day has always been a special day for me. While I may not have served (my grandfather served as did my wife) I have always held the highest esteem and respect for those who serve, who have served and who have sacrificed.
This weekend is a good time to enjoy the pleasures freedom grants us. Freedoms so honorably fought for and protected by servicemen and servicewomen.
My most recent visit to Omaha Beach a few years’ back was as powerful one. I have always been drawn the events of D-Day. Here on this important battlefield, one can’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming awe at the scale of the sacrifice made on June 6, 1944. Thousands of men knew, that morning, they were not coming back.
They charged the beach, unprotected for hundreds of yards of open sand. They charged the beach, as many other soldiers before and after them. They would eventually breech the ‘Atlantic wall’. At Ste-Mere Eglise there is a mile marker. Mile 0 of the road to liberty. Patton and his forces would start the march to Paris and it’s eventual liberation. Within a year the war would end.
Going to Arlington National Cemetery for all these years does not tame the attachment I have for the cemetery. Watching the sentinels walking the mat at the Tomb of the Unknowns still touches me each time. Seeing the dedication to those fallen, the unknowns, still remains an emotional moment with every visit. Being able to share this experience with all our student travelers is very fulfilling when we’re in Washington DC.
If you meet a veteran or active or retired serviceman or service woman shake their hand and thank them for serving. This weekend we don’t need to be on the beaches of Normandy or Arlington Cemetery to think about those who sacrificed. Simply take a moment to remember the fallen and the living and be thankful and grateful.