By David Dillon © 1996
The wettest place I have ever been is in France. It’s a battlefield where great armies clashed — where many men fought and died. It’s a bluff in Normandy overlooking Omaha Beach, a principal landing site for the 1944 D-Day invasion to liberate Europe.
It’s the wettest place because it is daily watered by the tears of those who remember that day, those who remember friends or loved ones who looked up at that hill from the incoming boats, and those of us not yet born who can never imagine the courage it took to step off into certain death. We will never know what was in the hearts and minds of those men the instant before fire and steel took their lives.
Was it love of country, or a determination to free an imprisoned people? Was it to avenge the deaths of so many, or to avoid being a disappointment to their buddies? Or did they just resolve that the quickest possible way home — to where fear no longer filled every waking hour — was through the killing ground ahead?
Atop that bluff in Normandy lie thousands of American dead. They repose in a peace so different from the hell that surrounded them in the moments before their lives ended. The white stone markers seem to go on forever. Each represents a person of worth. Each represents a hero.
Just as those heroes of Normandy three quarters of a century ago deserve our thoughts, so too do all of America’s military men and women who died in service. From the very first casualties in the war that earned us our nation, to the last, who perhaps died yesterday in some far-off place. They may have seen their duty in many different ways, but they carried it out.
So please take a moment this Memorial Day to remember those who fulfilled their covenant with destiny by stepping into the breach when their country called. Remember those who fell — because they should never be forgotten. And, should a tear fall on the grass at your feet, think of it as nurturing the soil of the land those soldiers loved so well.