Remembrance Day 2012 – – – “It’s not always about you”

Today is Remembrance Day / Armistice Day / Poppy Day / Veterans day; a time to reflect that “it’s not always about you.” Therefore it gives me a reason to pause and reflect that we should always be remembering the importance of everyone’s lives and be constantly grateful for the ultimate sacrifices so many have made throughout history so that we may enjoy all that we have. I am posting these thoughts and photos rather than write about yet another of the varied everyday experiences I am having here in Eastern Europe.

While serving in the Peace Corps away from family, friends and the comforts of home for two years might seem to others as a commitment many are not likely to embark upon, it pales in significance to the commitments and sacrifices made by untold numbers of people throughout history in the seemingly endless struggle to gain and assure the freedoms so many of us take for granted.

All of us in the Peace Corps have various opportunities to travel beyond our assigned work sites and experience and learn about other cultures which we might not have ever been able to do if we remained in the relative comfort of our homes in the USA. Last September, I went to Germany to catch up with my wife who was on a work assignment in Frankfurt. When she had completed her work, she used her available vacation and delayed her return to the US so that we could spend time together and explore some areas of Western Europe which neither of us had seen during previous vacations on the European continent. We decided to use some of our time to visit the American Cemetery at Normandy, France where the remains of nearly 10,000 Americans are buried. Many more Americans gave their lives during the D-Day invasion and throughout World War II in That part of the world, but these are the remains for whom their family’s gave the US Government their approval for the burials there. This cemetery is in commemoration of those who died in France during the invasion and throughout WW- II.  Americans who died in wars overseas are returned for burials in the USA, unless their family’s give permission for their burial in foreign lands where they died.

Visiting the battlegrounds along the coast of France and seeing the remnants of The Third Reich’s “Atlantic Wall” of heavy fortifications through which the Allied forces had to break and establish a basis for eventual victory in Europe during WW – II was an experience that cannot easily be described. An even more poignant experience was our visit to the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach which was the site of one of the deadliest battles in the Allied invasion to liberate France from the oppression of the Nazis and eventually defeat the Third Reich and bring an end to WW – II.

The following photos from our visit to the D-Day museum and the American Cemetery speak for themselves:

The entrance to the D-Day Museum at Normandy, France. It is difficult to make out, but these flags of the countries involved in WW- II were installed before the reunification of Germany. Therefore, there are two German flags next to the American Flag. They will likely remain that way because of that represents the time period.

Outside the Normandy D-day Museum. This sculpture speaks volumes. It is titled, “Non-Violence.”

Commemorative cross at beginning of the display inside the D-Day Museum.

Commemorative area at entrance to the cemetery.

View from the entrance toward the marked graves

A small part of the marked graves area

Mostly Christian crosses, but there are also Stars of David and symbols of other religions.                                                                   How do you say “Thank you” to so many souls?

The names of the buried remains for whom an identity with specific remains could not be determined.

So, on this Veteran’s Day, let us pause in our everyday activities, put some perspective in our daily affairs and offer up some respect and regard for so many who gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

About Lew in Macedonia

Recently retired, but wanting to extend my career and continue being useful. I have decided to act upon a plan I had while in college, but never was able to actively pursue. I have applied to and been invited to serve in the Peace Corps. I will be serving in Macedonia September 11, 2011 until November 23, 2013. If interested in my Peace Corps application process, which began on 4/27/2010 and took until 9/9/2011 when I arrived at Staging, read my previous blog. My TIME LINE can be found there among my August 2010 blogs at: http://palew.blogspot.com/
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