Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Day in History, Literally

by Douglas Maggs


It’s hard to believe that we have been here for nearly a week now. The culture, the cuisine, and of course the people are just amazing! While I could definitely talk about any of the great things that have happened, I want to focus on one thing in particular that I thought was very special.

On Tuesday, we had the fantastic opportunityto visit the Normandy D-Day beaches and many other important landmarks in the area. I love history and I have always found World War II to be particularly interesting. Therefore, it was really a special moment to just look around and consider the events of 68 years ago on a now pristine and quiet beach. Our guide was able to point to the very spot where famous events occurred. The Texas Rangers landed here, or the German anti-aircraft guns were there, etc. And so much of the history still exists right where it was left.

We climbed down into German bunkers and massive bomb craters and experienced history in a special way. Later in the day, we visited the American War cemetery in Normandy, where nearly 1,0000 Americans who died in the war now rest. It is a powerful image, to say the least, to look out on the rows of neat crosses and pristinely kept gardens. I remember feeling glad that we managed the place for our fallen veterans so well. We walked around for a long time, and just as we were leaving, we noticed that they had begun the American flag lowering ceremony, which is done at the end of each day. I talked to our guide about the lowering ceremony and asked if they ever let people participate. He explained that, in fact, only American citizens could lower the flags. Then to my disbelief, he went and talked to the cemetery director about the possibility of some of us helping in the ceremony. The director said that he would be happy to let a few of us participate. So along with Mr. Adams, Jasmine, JC, and I all helped lower the flag. The director told us that there was “no pressure,” but that 10000+ Americans were watching us right then. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it was a really moving experience. The entire day was special, but this in particular was very special!

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