I’m writing this post as we’re leaving Omaha Beach, and my thoughts and feelings on the beach are all in a jumble. Part of the reason for this blog post is to sort out what I’m thinking on the beach. I walked to the edge of the beach where the English Channel was smoothing out the sands, and I looked up at the land before me, trying to envision being a soldier on June 6th, 1944. In my mind’s eye the restaurants, villas, and ice cream parlors were replaced with German pill boxes, and machine guns with armor piercing rounds were waiting to rip me to pieces. I wondered, as we all did, if I would have been brave enough to run the few hundred yards from the water’s edge to the cliff’s looming in the distance. It’s a difficult question to answer, and I think those soldiers almost eighty years ago were wondering the same thing, “am I brave enough?”
Before leaving the beach Professor Steigerwald asked us what we thought of the beach becoming a vacation destination. Along the beach front were large houses and restaurants, and children played along the beach and built sand castles. Some thought it disrespectful, but I thought it was fitting. While the beach was once a graveyard, it is also a place of liberation. The soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day did not give the ultimate sacrifice just so no one could enjoy their liberation. The beaches of Normandy should be a place for remembrance, but also a place of joy. As I’m writing this, I think again of what the soldiers of D-Day were thinking. If they thought they would be brave enough to run across that beach. I wonder if they found strength in the fact that they were there to liberate, and that if they died then that sacrifice would be worth it for those who came after D-Day would be free.

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