I showed some good friends around in Normandy. You cannot get past the Cider, the Camembert, the Calvados and the gorgeous countryside. But all over the fields and forests, all over the dunes and beaches are the marks of the Second World War. There is simply no way of getting the hang of Normandy, if you do not try to understand its past… from William the Conqueror to the countless young lives that died for their respective colors 65 years ago.
So we showed up at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. General Mark W. Clark said one day “all we asked was enough soil in which to burry our dead”, and here it was: 172.5 acres of perfectly landscaped memorial grounds are overlooking Omaha beach and the English Channel. It contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II.
It was raining cats and dogs. It was cold. There was a stormy wind that chilled us to the bones. But hearing superintendent Hans H. Hooker talk about his cemetery was heartwarming. In the pouring rain, he sketched us the grim details of the landing, bringing back lives of young men that died on those beaches, Americans and Germans alike. Here is a man with a passion for history, simply reminding us never to forget, urging us to remember. I just hope that people as passionate and respectful as Hans will still be around for our kids, and the kids of our kids. Over 9000 white crosses and stars of David silently witness about the absurdness of war. We need people to continue to tell their story…. .
Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.