Standing here at Omaha Beach, it’s almost unimaginable. Having read about the history of this place in school, having seen countless documentaries and movies (such as of course Saving Private Ryan), it was really surreal when I made a pilgrimage to Normandy to see for myself this place of profound importance in the history of humanity on Earth. History can have this sense of disconnect. For me growing up in the Midwestern United States, France had always been this exotic far away land. The events of World War Two compounded that, being ancient history to my young mind reading about it in school. Countless movies dramatized the heroic actions of Allied forces that day, bringing the history to life. But these were still tales of a far away land in a far away time. In my first ever trip to Europe I sought out some of these historical places, starting with Normandy. What I found is that visiting these places builds a connection. It builds a bridge, between near and far and between now and then. While my tour bus spent precious little time actually at Omaha Beach and I quickly fired of a number of shots with my camera, I paused to look upon this place and imagine storming up 1/2 way between low and high tide with the high ground occupied by enemy forces in superior positions. It’s incredible that so much violence happened here on this beautiful beach along the English Channel. It’s incredible to stand where this history took place, to think of the sacrifice of thousands made so that we can all live our lives as we do now, in world without Nazi Germany. On this day, the anniversary of that monumental effort, we should all think of these events and be thankful for the sacrifice of those who fought here and died here, forever renaming a beach along northern France and forever changing the course of the war and of all modern history. I highly recommend that everyone make pilgrimages to places of historical significance, so you can form your own connection to these places and they solidify out of the realm of imagination and you can see for yourself where it all happened.
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