Veterans Day inspired me to write this story. For over two years because of the Chinese Virus, I have not written about our travels because it was too sad to reminisce about our beyond-fabulous adventures! Our travels to Normandy and the story of the Normandy Invasion and our armed forces men who lost their lives protecting freedom over tyranny earned my heart so much that we later returned to Normandy with our grandchildren.
Seclusion in Elsewhere is over! I am delightfully happy our cloistering has ended; never in my mind to be repeated again. I am an empowered woman who should have known better! Well, darling, the good part of this mishap is that we never stop learning. You see, every tragedy has a positive learning lesson!
Back to my story!
It is now time for you and me to pack up our bags, get back in the saddle, and travel! Whether it is to visit our families or see the world, matters not. It is the doing that matters. Happily, my ultimate concierge and I are planning a trip to Taiwan this December. As, my ultimate concierge always says, “the best is yet to come!”
I truly believe I have earned my Ph.D. in life – and traveling has been part of that. Oh, the places I’ve been. Oh, the people I’ve met. Oh, the adventures I’ve shared with my husband, family, and friends.
I have not mused often about my travels because it has been so expansive that I was overwhelmed with wondering where to begin.
I have seen so much of our world. I have learned so much. And I have met so many amazing people, admired their customs, and been in awe of their cities, art, and landscape.
Let’s begin by saying, in my marriage, I am the adventuresome one. My husband always says “yes” and winds up having the time of his life. So, I am a very lucky wife and I am grateful.
Before I get to my story on Normandy, France I will give you a little summary of our travels.
Oh, the places I’ve been, a summary of where I’ve traveled
When I said to my husband, “I dream of traveling through every country in the Middle East,” he was game.
So off we traveled to Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Israel, and the West Bank City of Ramallah. It was there that we met in the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization with Yasser Arafat’s picture on the wall… I could not believe I was sitting there. When I stood on the Golan Heights and heard bomb blasts in Syria, I was saddened.
When I prayed at the Wailing Wall of what remains of the Old Temple in the old city of Jerusalem, I was proud of my heritage.
When I walked the streets and visited with the Iranians in Tehran and the Syrians in Damascus and Aleppo, I knew they wanted to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world.
When I asked my husband to take me to the off-limit Palestinian town, of Hebron, to visit the tomb of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, he hired a special Palestinian guide to take us into the city. (Sarah is my Hebrew name.)
When I walked into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I was in awe. When I looked at the Dome of the Rock located on the Holy Mount in Jerusalem, I wanted peace for all mankind.
Every country has its own specialness, but I do have favorite sites and experiences, such as…
The Great Wall of China, The Pyramids in Egypt, Monet’s Garden in Giverny, Lennon Square in Moscow, The original Berlin Wall in Germany, the Changing of the Guard in London, Montmartre outside of Paris, France, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, everything about Vietnam and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Geisha Theatre in Tokyo, an elephant safari in Africa, learning the Tango in Brazil, whale watching and glaciers in Antarctica, golf in Ireland and Scotland. Did I mention India, The Taj Mahal, Rome, and The Vatican?
Normandy, France stands out because I am an American who loves her country as did the young servicemen, who sacrificed their lives on D-Day. Since Veterans Day is upon us I do want to expound on the history of Normandy and my ultimate concierges, our grandchildren’s, and my unforgettable experiences.
God Bless America
Backtracking for a moment, I wanted to mention an event that took place a few years ago.
We had a dinner party at our home in California. My husband always stands up, raises his glass, and toasts our guests, welcoming them to our table. This particular evening was different. He raised his glass, welcomed our friends, and ended his toast with “God Bless America.” All of our friends raised theirs, all fourteen of them, and repeated, “God bless America.” It was a very significant moment.
Since that evening, dear friends, whether we are having dinner alone or with family or friends, he always makes a toast that ends with “God bless America.”
The History of Normandy
This brings me to our personal experience when we visited Normandy, Omaha Beach, and the American Cemetery.
First a little history of the Battle of Normandy. As Americans Veterans Day is a United States holiday that pays tribute to our brave American military who died protecting us.
According to History.com: “During World War 11 (1939-1944), the Battle of Normandy lasted from June 1944 to August 1944 and resulted in the allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The operation was known as Overlord. It began on what is known as D-Day when over 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches on June 6th along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region.”
The Normandy American Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel was established on June 8, 1944. It holds the graves of thousands of American servicemen who gave their lives to protect us.
I learned from our guide that every blade of grass, every bit of soil, every tree, every flower, and all of the headstones for our brave young soldiers were brought to Normandy from the United States.
My Take on Normandy
As we looked over the cliff of Omaha Beach, we could not believe the bravery of our young troops. They had to be filled with fear. German bunkers looked down on them as they unloaded from boats and climbed the cliff. Their bravery resulted in the liberation.
As a tribute, the American cemetery was built. After leaving the beach we walked to that sacred resting place of our brave men to salute them. There were no words to express our gratitude. The wind was blowing strong. We were told that no matter the month of the year the weather cries out as though feeling the pain of those young men who gave up their lives to protect its citizens.
Before we left for Europe, we discussed what we should do to show our respect.
In the Jewish religion on the anniversary of the death of a parent, wife, or child, Jews around the world light, in their home, a Yahrzeit candle. It burns for over one day and is a loving memory.
My ultimate concierge and I decided to bring Yahrzeit candles and light them as a symbol of our love for the United States of America and for our respect for the men and women who gave up their lives to protect us so valiantly.
If you are thinking of taking a trip to Normandy, it is a wonderful trip with your grandchildren. I would spend three days there. Begin by visiting Versailles, proceed to Monet’s Garden and then visit the following places: Honfleur, Rouen, Bayeux, Mont-Saint Michelle, Normandy Beach, and the American Cemetery.
If you cannot take your grands, every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, tell them a story of the Invasion of Normandy and watch the movies The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. Gift them with a book on America to further their pride in their country. What a marvelous history lesson and a loving way to spend the day.
I want to end my musings with my husband Sheldon Good’s toast. God Bless America.
For you see, no matter where I roam, there is no place like home…The United States of America.
Darlings, where is the best place you’ve traveled to? What did you learn while you were there?