It was a day I will never forget. I stood on Omaha beach, the wind ripping through my hair, the rain pelting my face. A winter storm in June. Just like on that fateful day, sixty years before, when the Germans peered out towards the invisible horizon . . . I stood in awe. The piercing cold of the wind ripped through my thin jacket . . . but I hardly noticed. A sharper point pierced through my heart, through my soul: it was my grandmother, her head bowed, her motions shaky, her eyes chasing phantoms, her ears hearing a roar that did not come from the wind. All she knew was that she stood on the same sands that her brother had fought on . . . the same beaches that had bled with the blood of his fellows. He had never been the same. The monster of war had changed him forever.
The moment is imprinted on my mind. I still see it: I see my grandmother, I see the past, I see that beach. It still bore the scars.
Later that day I stood on Point du Hoc. The bomb-craters had ravaged the ground. The barbed-wire remained menacing and untouched. The tanks still stood there, pointing their barrels ever sea-ward, toward an unseen enemy. And yet the green, green grass had covered the wounds of the earth, those deep, deadly bomb-craters. And I wondered . . . what did it mean, this beauty that had covered the carnage?
I visited the American cemetery on that same stormy day. And there I understood. The thousands upon thousands of white crosses took on a nameless face, and cried to me with silent voices—“Does the earth still remember? Does our memory yet remain?” Yes, my fallen brothers. The earth will always remember. She has grown green and beautiful over your torn and bleeding bodies. But we will never forget.
A war leaves scars forever. It ravages our hearts and our lands. It changes us. We are never the same. Yet I saw it there on Normandy coast, those places of violence and slaughter are now green, growing, and even beautiful. Yes, the war scars are beautiful! I saw it, and it gave me hope, a deep aching hope, that after destruction comes beauty . . . after desolation, glory will overcome.
This I believe: no storm can come that can destroy life’s beauty. The scars of war, though indelible, will be enshrined in beauty in the end.
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