How a visit to Normandy reminded me of my love of the U.S.September 29, 2017
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 I do not know where to begin.
I have seen so much of our world. I have learned so much. I have met so many amazing people, admired their customs, 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
When I said to my husband, “I dream of traveling through every country in the Middle East,” after he was skeptical, 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 where 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, 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 Berlin Wall in Germany, the Changing of the Guard in London, Montmartre outside of Paris, France, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and shopping, everything about Vietnam and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Geisha Theatre in Tokyo, 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, and Rome, The Vatican?
In Normandy, France I felt terrible sadness mixed with great pride.
Since Memorial Day is upon us, I do want to expound on the history of Normandy and our personal experience.
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 a few years ago. 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, welcoming 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.”
My Story on Normandy
This brings me to our personal experience when we visited Normandy, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.
First a little history of Memorial Day and the Battle of Normandy.
Memorial Day is a United States federal Holiday that has been in existence since the end of the Civil War. As we all know, this holiday 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. It began on what is known as D-Day when over 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches 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 that every blade of grass, every bit of soil, every tree and flower and all of the headstones for our brave young soldiers were brought to Normandy from the United States.
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 at one Christian and one Jewish grave as a symbol of our love for the United States of America and the 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 grandchildren, I would take three days. Begin by visiting Versailles, proceed to Monet’s Garden and then visit the following places: Honfleur, Rouen, Bayeux, Mont-Saint Michelle and Normandy Beach and the American Cemetery.
If you cannot take the grands, every Memorial 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.