Beautiful and Terrible

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

Frederick Buechner

Looking down at the beach from Pointe du Hoc in Normandy. Of the 225+ Rangers that attacked, only 90 survived.

On my little journey of beautiful places drawing ever nearer to my home, today’s stop is Normandy.

Normandy itself was beautiful. I didn’t know I could so readily fall in love with a place that wasn’t my home. Even Wyoming took its time to grow on me.

But with Normandy, it was love at first sight.

Lush green farmland. Cows. Old stone buildings. History. Friendly people. Patisseries. Beaches.

The beaches are beautiful.

And terrible.

I couldn’t look at them without feeling a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat.

Beach view from the walkway at the American Cemetery in Normandy

This is a place where brave men sacrificed themselves for others. It doesn’t get more beautiful and terrible than that.

We’ve talked about taking a family trip to Normandy. I want my children to see and know what happened there.

“Do they have regular beaches there?” one of my children asked.

“Yes,” I said, because I had seen them — stretches of sand and ocean.

But I’m not sure I could play there, on these beaches where men died.

Imagine, if you will, that our soldiers hadn’t done what they did there. What a different world we would live in. It almost compels me to play there — and enjoy the freedom purchased with their sacrifice.

A friend tagged me in a photography challenge that involves posting nature photos (taken by me) for seven days. She did it on Facebook, but I’m going to do mine here, starting with far away places and moving closer to home every day.

Today, Day #3, is from Normandy, over 3400 miles from Cooperstown!

I’m going to tag some of my favorite bloggers to take up the challenge too. If you’re tagged and don’t want to do it, that 110% fine with me. I totally understand.

Vanessa — I’m tagging you because I love your garden pictures. Flowers always make me smile.

7 thoughts on “Beautiful and Terrible

  1. In England it is commonplace to acknowledge that if the Allies had not been victorious that we would all be speaking German. In fact my 85 year old mother noted that very thing during my last visit. But like all knife-edge outcomes (and it was on a knife-edge and it did rely on allies coming together and being the greatest team effort the world has ever seen) it would have been far more than a language issue. Not because of Germany. But because of one evil soul. Imagine that? Just one. Then think about the world we live in now and protect it with all your might. And take your children to Normandy so that they might absorb all the pain and sorrow of those that fell and maybe, just maybe ensure that it will never EVER happen again. Great, and thought provoking piece of writing, by the way.

    1. Language would just be sign of a much deeper issue. It’s one thing to read about it in books or see it in movies. It’s totally another to stand on the edge of one of those cliffs.

      ps — I like that you always “get” me.

  2. Exactly so. I remember my first visit to Normandy. With my Mother actually. As though it were yesterday. It cut my heart like a razor and I have never forgotten it, neither must I. I do ‘get’ you and I am glad to have been given the opportunity 🙂 Keep doing what you do

  3. Oh my, Sally, I am honored! Thank you!

    I had to weep a little, reading this post. Beautiful, and terrible. That small phrase sums up what happened at Normandy so perfectly.

  4. A place I must see someday. I wouldn’t be alive today if it hadn’t been for those men. My parents would have starved to death under occupation if the war had gone on a few more months.

      1. The Netherlands. They were children at the time, old enough by war’s end to have clear memories of it. From the stories they told, the last few months, had it gone on, at least one of them would have starved, if not both.

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