One year ago today, I was in France experiencing D-Day like I never have before, nor ever will again. I saw some of the most breathtakingly beautiful views, which were also some of the most heart-wrenching. To think of tens of thousands of men losing their lives on the same beaches and cliffs that I stood on was too much. We spent days discussing the impact of D-Day and visiting various sites and witnessing beautiful ceremonies; despite how much I learn about D-Day and how it changed history, I will never fully understand a single bit of it. My heart has been aching for the places I call home: Merville-Franceville, Springfield, Ozark. But today, more than ever, I truly wish I could be back in France, in Normandy. I long to experience the heartbreak and joy that is felt by all because of what happened on this day 70 years ago. I want to walk the beach where part of the Atlantic Wall still stands and remember the way the world would have been. I want to witness the veterans embracing their past, remembering the lives that were lost, as well as those that were gained. I want to see the celebration of the nations as their continue living in freedom because of the storming of the beaches and the mourning of the lives that were lost. I want to walk to the memorials and battlements and simply touch the concrete and marble with the most unfulfilling “thank you” I can manage. Because no matter what I do, I will never be able to saying “thank you” in a fulfilling manner to these people. No matter what I do, the full extent of my gratitude would never be seen. I can never thank the men who laid down their lives to free people they never knew. I can never thank them.
The amount of recognition of this day, has declined incredibly in the States. I’ve been witnessing a bit more recognition over the last few weeks than I ever have before, but it’s still such a small amount. Many of us barely think of D-Day and then continue with our days. But after experiencing the celebration and mourning that takes place in Normandy, I will never look at this day the same again. When I think of it at random, no matter when it is in the year, tears are brought to my eyes, my heart yearns for some way to show my gratitude and thankfulness, and my mind is overwhelmed with everything that took place. Please, whoever you are, wherever you are, take some time to learn about how the world was, especially in Europe, at this time and think about what the world would be like if D-Day didn’t occur. Appreciate what took place. Even though it was horrible, it brought freedom and life to millions.