America is the only country ever founded on a creed.
(images of the flag flying over the American Cemetery in Normandy / Julie Cook / 2018)
I want to offer one last reflection regarding our visit to the Amercian Cemetery in Normandy
before moving on to other thoughts.
When we arrived at the US cemetery after a day of exploring battlefields, the “enemy’s” cemetery
as well as occupied villages and towns, it was now shortly before 4PM.
Each afternoon at 4PM an honor guard makes its way to the American flag flying watch over the
thousands of perfectly aligned crosses and stars.
Taps is played as the flag is lowered and folded.
The flag is lowered each and every day just as it has been lowered now for the past 74 years
that the cemetery has been an official US cemetery on foreign soil.
We had been wandering about the graves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of graves—
almost unaware that we were now carrying a heavy sense of deep sorrow.
We were told that it was the state of West Virginia that suffered the greatest number of
losses during the invasion, so we looked for the names of the states whose young men are
resting under the rows of crosses and stars.
We saw names hailing from states such as Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…
and yes West Virginia.
Just like in most cemeteries, there is a solemn quiet that carries itself throughout
Whispers or simple silence is the unspoken rule of etiquette.
As the clock struck 4 PM, as the honor guard approached the flag,
all the wandering visitors stopped wandering.
Next, all present turned toward the flag and were suddenly very still
as ball caps were removed from heads, despite the rain…
as now both young and old automatically lifted hands to either place over hearts or
lift to the head in salute.
Something very powerful was taking place.
Reverence and respect were taking place…
laced with humility as well as gratitude.
Oh how far this land of ours has fallen from those hallowed ideals.
I pray we find them again…soon.
If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.