Nature’s Return to Normandy

It is a common saying, at least in my experience, that nothing in history is inevitable. Everything is a combination of circumstances that either slowly build over time or have one event that lights the powder keg. Despite all the casualties and destruction that the beaches of Normandy saw, I would argue there is one inevitability that no humans can control: Mother Nature will always take back what is hers.

On our final day in Normandy, our first stop was Pointe Du Hoc. The site saw harsh fighting from the Allies, and they fought to climb the cliffs despite German fortifications. While exploring the area, there were pronounced craters scattered around the area. These are the locations of bombing and shelling during the fight to secure the location.

Crater made by shelling during the battle at Pointe du Hoc

There are so many feelings someone can have while walking in what feels like such a serine place while being surrounded by the evidence of the fight. Personally, I was immediately engrossed in how grass and wildflowers have grown over much of the area. There were men there trimming the grass, but it was with weed wackers, not with lawn mowers. This was most likely so visitors could still see the various German bunkers still standing. The effort was much appreciated, but I also wonder how tall the grass would be without human intervention.

Small, white wildflowers blooming at the top of a crater

This picture is of the wildflowers that were blooming in one of the craters. From the distance, and a trick of the eyes, they reminded me of lily of the valley flowers. Lily of the valley has a connotation of returning to happiness, but they can also be used during grieving. They’re extremely important in Europe, and the thought of such a beautiful flower growing where so many men passed has stuck with me since the visit.

The main rock point at Pointe du Hoc

Even the point of Pointe du Hoc, a gorgeous stone, has been weathered and reclaimed with time. The prominent landmark had connected all the way to the mainland at the time of the war, but there is now a significant dip in the wall. Mother Nature is not a force that can be fought against; humans may only temporarily hinder her, but never stop her.

~Katie Johnson

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