Tuesday, October 5, 2010
October 5, 2010—"Viva la France: A Sacrifice Not Forgotten"
Today the group experienced an incredible change in our mindset of French culture. Any previous negative stereotype of these beautiful people was completely melted away with the rain. Their true hearts were revealed to us in the most unexpected manner. During our tour of the American cemetery at Omaha Beach, we crossed paths with a French tour group. Through our translator’s assistance, the group of French tourists requested the honor of personally thanking our group of veterans. One by one, they came forward and individually expressed their gratitude. The sincerity on their faces was absolutely incredible. Tears of pure gratitude streamed from the faces of both French men and woman as they shook hands and kissed the cheeks of each veteran. We students silently stood in surprise and appreciation. To see the tears on their faces as they so beautifully thanked our veterans is something that one must see to truly understand. Never had the people of France been portrayed to us in this light. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences a lifetime can offer.
Our guide later explained how the people of France are each assigned a grave site in the cemetery. They are responsible for caring and bringing flowers to the site. The French hold our WWII dead in such high respects, it was humbling to us. The grounds of the cemetery are beautifully kept where the soldier’s silently sleep. Standing there among all those graves, you cannot help but realize your debt to these men. We deeply feel this is something that needs to be passed on to the rest of America.
Later that day, our group visited Omaha Beach. Under umbrellas and linking arms with the veterans, we gathered on the shores were American troops landed on June 6th. The tide was out and we could see several remnants of ships protruding through the water. Omaha Beach was nearly a solitary place today and so peaceful. But as Mr. Ralph Manly concluded, “It truly was the longest day.”
Emily A. Jackson & Garrett Stanbrough