As many of you readers will have noticed I don’t usually publish on our blog. However today I am struck by an occasion so stirring that I felt the need to convey my own words on the blog. With this said I believe this moment, as many important moments in life are, is best defined by context- in this case the context of my childhood.
I never knew my grandparents well, in fact I probably saw them infrequently enough to number our visits on one hand (maybe two). When I say grandparents I am referring to the parents of my mother because my father’s parents passed away; one before I was born and the other when I was very young. I had always known since I can remember that Grandpa fought in some of the most historic battles in WWII. Though he never talked about them except to one of his sons, The War was something that was constantly on my mind when around him, though I was told not and never dared to ask. It was almost as if it was a shadow that loomed about him that was visible to all, but mentioned by none. Part of the allure of this shadow is the fact that my Dad is a history buff, an interest that was most certainly passed down to me. Just glancing at my father’s bookshelf as a child I remember seeing volumes cataloging everything about the second World War. I so desired as a little kid to know my grandfather better and to hear the stories that he had brought back.
To me as a kid the war seemed like a game, something we told stories about, something we pretended to play behind our house with paintball guns. As with many things in life we seem to romanticise war to the point where we just see all the glory and honor but none of the pain and suffering. Maybe it is time passing or being removed from the scenes of such events; whatever the case we forget the true horror that is war. Perhaps we read statistics on how many people died to the point that we forget that each number was a person, a son, a daughter, a father, or a mother.
I do not write this to be a downer or to convict you, but to inspire. An inspiration of gratitude for an almost completely faded generation that sacrificed everything for something greater than themselves. People who with their one life gave it up to rid the world of an evil. It is with this attitude and thought that I walked away from a sea of white.
The American Cemetery in Luxembourg is one of great significance to my family though I am the first to have the honor of visiting it. My grandfather was the in the battle that this cemetery commemorates. Most of the soldiers that rest here are from the winter campaign of ’44 to the spring of ’45 in what is better known as the Battle of the Bulge.
It was about a 20 minute walk from the bus stop. From there Kati, baby, our friend Anissa, and I all walked in the rain to honor my grandfather’s comrades.
As the sounds of the road faded, they were replaced by that of the soft pattering rain and the coursing of small streams running down the sides of the path.
It’s days and moments like this that remind me how cluttered my life is, and how peaceful it is when all the sounds of our fast paced modern world are washed away. I have always marveled at how rain has the unique ability to make everything seem so green and alive even when the sky is so grey.
Finally at the top of the hill a gate of blue and gold stood watch over her charge and a lone trumpet sounding off taps in the background greeted us as we arrived.
You do not have to walk far into the cemetery to see the sea of white crosses and stars ahead of you. In perfect symmetry against a background of beautiful red and green trees contrasted to the dark sky lay 5,076 of America’s children.
At the front, as if commanding once more, lies their General George S. Patton Jr. with memorials to each side commemorating their glorious achievements as a tomb immortalizing their sacrifice forevermore.
Such a somber feeling of gratitude and peace has scarcely befallen me as the sight that seemed to roll out as a scroll before me.
Each day these soldiers rest here in peace whether we remember them or not. Their sacrifice whispers to those quiet enough to hear them.
To say that this day was special to me would be missing the point. These men knew my grandfather perhaps better than I did, and gazing at their gift to us has brought me closer to his memory than I have ever been.
“I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”
À la prochaine.