It is a somber walk. The rain that has begun to fall mimics the tone. It is cold but gentle. A reminder of what remains in the past. What remains as only a memory. Thankfully, the drizzle hides my tears and I no longer mind the fact that I left my rain jacket in the car. The guide said that there were 9,328 graves present. All American. All died fighting for the same cause, to liberate France. The rows of white crosses resemble marching lines as one by one they fell. 1,000 of these graves are unknown. Another 1,000 were never found. More than likely, they drowned before they ever reached the beach.
These men had names and faces. These men had friends and family. These men had wives and children. These men had flaws and personalities. These men were people. Many no older than eighteen. They are now just a memory. Frozen in time. Fragments of the past.
It is eerie how beautiful the beaches are. The cliffs that once were covered with the blood of thousands now dawn beautiful wildflowers in full bloom. The myrtle creeps up the barbed wire, bearing bright magenta flowers and the resilient fields have managed to sprout the greenest grass I have ever seen despite the shift in landscape. The large, gaping craters caused by artillery shells are blanketed in thick, green foliage and dandelions. The grass has begun to grow through the bunkers that were left behind. Large cracks have begun to form. The memory may remain but the terrain has forgotten. It has moved on. No longer a victim left scarred by mankind.
I did not fully understand the impact we as a human race have on one another until today. We have the capacity to snuff out every ounce of life and we have the capacity to grow as to perfection. We have the capacity to die for one another because it is our duty without recognizing the family and friends and names and faces behind the people we are killing. What is the difference except for the victor?