Sunday, March 25, 2012

the family has arrived.


I have visitors!!! My aunt, uncle, and cousin are here for the week, and it is so wonderful to see them and be able to be a tour guide!

After some crazy weather and cancellations in Chicago on Friday, they ended up getting here early this morning and drove from Paris to Evreux to meet me at my apartment. It was surreal! They just showed up at my front porch! Real live Americans in the middle of Evreux! We grabbed a quick breakfast of pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants--a hit all around) and hit the road.

We began the trip in Caen, at the World War II Memorial and for a tour of the Normandy beaches. I hadn't been there ever, so it was a first for everyone. We had a guided tour with a lovely little French man named Jean-François and a great driver, Kareem.

The tour was powerful, to say the least. To be at all of these sites that saw so much bloodshed and violence in such a short amount of time, and that were so integral to the outcome of WWII was inexplicable. We had very appropriate weather--it was supposed to be sunny and warm, but we were covered in a dense fog with wind and a chill all day. Very somber for a very somber place. We saw German bunkers and artillery batteries, with real guns. We walked through fields that had been blasted with bombs and grenades and still bear the scars. We peered into trenches and heard the ocean beating against the now-serene beaches.

an intact German bunker

inside a collapsed bunker

One of the most moving stops on the tour was our trip to the American Cemetery. Over 9,400 American soldiers are buried here. It is a well-maintained, thoughtful memorial to all of the soldiers who gave their lives in this heroic attack. Every detail is deliberate and accounted for and the American and French governments have worked together for the respect of all of these men (and four women). Each of the graves is specifically tended by a French person, and they each face the West--towards the United States.

the memorial monument with reflection pool

map of all of the air strikes, from the beaches to Paris

Evreux--site of a major air strike

rows of graves

All of this to take in within a five-hour period. It was hard to believe that less than 70 years ago, this all took place, right beneath our feet. Soldiers poured onto these beaches and trudged across these fields with the goal of liberty and righteousness. Now, there are remains of this, but the grass has grown green again and the tide has washed these beaches clean. As pervasive as these memories are, the hope is permeable and has lasted since.

pax christi.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to go see the WWII history in Normandy but I'll wait and go with Scott on another trip. I'm jealous you and the Costello's went there. That is high on my list of things to do.
    Nancy Forrest