Monday, June 8, 2009

A Tribute to Bravery at Colleville-sur-Mer

Today's Wonder of the World is...A Tribute to Bravery at Colleville-sur-Mer

Photo taken for Life Magazine by Robert Capa
My family has a special connection to Omaha Beach.

That's my grandfather's grave at the American Military Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. As you can see from the inscription on the cross, he was killed July 29, 1944, which happened to be my mother's first birthday.

I had forgotten that Saturday was the 65th anniversary of D-Day. I got on the treadmill, turned on the television, and there was Omaha Beach. The service had just started at the cemetery grounds. Did you see it? It was such a powerful, beautiful tribute that I've been thinking about it ever since.

President Obama's speech was profoundly touching, full of personal stories.
In case you missed it, here's the video to watch.

Visiting the cemetery is such a moving experience. There are 9387 servicemen and women buried there, including 307 Unknowns. So many crosses and Stars of David.

We made several trips to the cemetery during our four years in France. With each visit I remembered the first trip I ever made with my family when I was in college, when my mother knelt at her father's grave for the very first time. I'll never forget the young French woman who brought us to his cross, knelt in front of it, and wiped wet sand in the letters, so that his name would stand out from all the rest.

Here's a pic of the memorial itself, where Saturday's ceremony took place.

See the statue? It's called, "The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves."
I think it's perfect.

You can read more about Saturday's service here.
Before you go, here's another video for you. You know that amazing shot at the top of this post, the one of the soldier crawling onto Omaha Beach? For years and years no one knew the identity of that soldier, but now they do. His name is Hu Riley, and Tom Brokaw had the chance to sit down and talk with him.
Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all!

Love, Becky

PS. I almost forgot! Here's something interesting for you... I mentioned that my grandfather was killed on my mother's first birthday. I always felt sad for my mom that her birthday was connected with such a tragic event in her life. But guess what? In the summer of 1992, my son Ben was born a few days late-- on July 29th! I couldn't have planned it better myself!


Family Life said...

That is a beautiful tribute. Even though I'm not blood related to you, I feel as though I have a real personal connection to Omaha Beach through the family. Brought tears to my eyes, just a wonderful tribute to those then and those still fighting today. And, I didn't know Ben was born on that day, there's not much to say there but WOW!

Susan said...

What a touching post. I live about one hour away from the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia. It's fairly new and we haven't attended yet, but I feel so proud of those brave ones that gave their lives for our country. Your post is bittersweet to be sure. Thanks for sharing. Susan

LW said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your grandfather and your family…

Ben’s birthday being on that very same day will
guarantee that the story will be told to future generations…


Ronnie said...

Perfect, your boy deciding to change the tone of his grandmother's birthday. Funny how those things happen.
When we lived in Hawaii, Punch Bowl National Cemetery was a favorite place to go. Thanks for the lovely story.

May Vanderbilt said...

How moving! Thank you so much for sharing with us. My family's not big on storytelling so I love to hear other families' histories.

lotusgirl said...

That's such a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. Do you remember the story I told last fall about my uncle? I had always felt that I had a connection to that time too, only to realize that my uncle changed up his story. He still came in there, but not the way he told it. Sometimes it's easier to make something up than tell the truth. For him, I think, the truth was too awful to tell.

Jen P said...

Thank you to all the families like yours, whose loss defended European soil but had much wider implications for all of us ongoing.
We mustn't take any of our liberties for granted.

Your post made me both cry and smile.

And my third is due in 4 weeks, so birth stories get me every time at the moment! ;-)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Congratulations, Jen P! I'm thrilled for you!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

An amazing event indeed. Any soldier involved was a real hero--this was a great tribute.

Rosemary said...

This was a wonderful post.
I think everything happens for a reason, like Ben's birthday!!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Rosemary, I'd find it very hard to argue that Ben's b-day was happenstance!

Renee said...

Becky I was shocked when you said it was your grandfather's grave.

I thought of my Dad who was in WWII but not on Omaha Beach.

I am glad that Ben came along and made it a special day too.

Love Renee xoxox

a Tonggu Momma said...

What a beautiful tribute. And I shall never forget going to the Vietnam Memorial with my sister's college roommate. She never met her father - he died before she was even born.