Though we can read books about warfare, we will never know what it was like to be showered with bombs. Growing up in the early 21st century, I have lead a privileged life that has been safe in my own country. In history classes, a picture was painted of families fleeing to the London Tube tunnels during bombing and fearing to return to a pile of rubble that used to be their home. I could not begin to comprehend the sheer power that these bombs harnessed until I walked the grounds of Pointe du Hoc.
This site is the most striking thing we’ve visited on our journey thus far. Pointe du Hoc was the highest point between the American landings on Utah and Omaha beaches. Though the area had been fortified by the Germans, the United States Army Ranger Assault Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc by scaling the cliffs from the beach. The Rangers accomplished this by using borrowed ladders from the London Fire Brigade and grappling hooks while under fire. I finally saw the damage that was caused by bombs dropped by the allied forces during the pre invasion strikes. All around me were gouges in the ground, some 20-30 feet deep. To fully understand the impact, I walked into a crater and I almost felt like I was in another world.
The bottom of the crater was a new ecosystem, one that was magical and seemed almost safe. Among the yellow flowering bushes, vibrant green lichen, and chirping birds, I found a surprise. As the bombs ripped through this land, they created art and new life. The impact had ripped away the substantial concrete blocks, leaving the metal support spikes, or rebars, exposed. This created an organic, found art experience. These clumps of metal spikes reached up towards the opening of the crater in an almost snake-like manner and they seemed a logical part of the earth they were protruding from.
These spikes didn’t seem to be a result of a bomb impact, they seemed to be slithering out of the ground to rejoin and intertwine with the new plants growing. Seeing something that is usually man made become something that could interpreted as many organic forms was an inspiring moment.
Regardless of the sources that I’ve read for our spring class or for other history classes, I didn’t understand the reality. Beyond understanding the power of bombing, I never expected to find something so beautiful as a bi-product. The juxtaposition of the craters to the flower accented spike art was a true sight to behold. Art is always something that is unexpected and finding beauty in the midst of destruction was the most unexpected of all. As an arts major, I find myself inspired by the organic art that I discovered at Pointe du Hoc and I plan to explore the idea of recreating this experience in an arts series.