June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. July 2018, my parents, my son and I walked the same ground. The memory of our travel is profound. The memory of those who gave the most that day is inspiring. Let me also share a couple of pictures I captured on that trip.
Our guide, a British man, was most impressed with the American military cemetery in Normandy. He offered two reflections that I share today.
First, our guide noted how well we Americans tend to the hallowed ground of our fallen. Not that other country’s military cemeteries are weed patches. Rather the attention to detail we give which you see in the alignment of the grave markers. Even more, the continued investment of resources to staff these cemeteries. Some countries military cemeteries are tended by volunteers.
A result are experiences, akin to mine, of taps and the lowering of the flag. I was able to witness this ceremony in Normandy. As taps was played, a noticeable quiet came over the cemetery as all the tourist and staff faced the flag and each in their own way respected the ritual. It was a stirring moment.
Second, our guide noted the egalitarian nature of American military cemeteries. I’ve been to Arlington. I live near Jefferson Barricks Cemetery. It is so at our cemetery in Normandy. We lay to rest our lost as they fall.
We do not create sections for officers separate from enlisted. We do not keep genders apart nor ethnic groups. Our guide was most impressed that we treated our fallen with equal respect.
That is us at our best. That is USA at our best. That is church at our best. That is the great commandment and the great commission. I do not expect my country to enforce my faith as much as to allow the freedom for my faith, as was bought by the sacrifice of my ancestors, our kin and neighbors.
On this Memorial day, with solemn contemplation, may we be inspired by those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom (rights & responsibilities). And may we be guided by the care given those who fell in the fight for justice and mercy.