The Unexpected Rest in Peace
Normandy, France: Where I Made Peace With War
Flash, Crash, Boom – Lightening and Thunder sound around me. Flash, Crash, Boom – The sound of 2 guns fire. Then a third one and a trumpet begins to sound serenading the atmosphere with the well known military funeral song, “Taps” …no one moves. Except for the dark clouds that happen to be breaking open letting enough sun shine through as if on que for this very moment. Everyone falls quiet. Hats are taken off. Hands land on hearts and as if choreographed, everyone turns in the direction of the flag as it’s being lowered. You can’t here a thing except for the tributary music and the squishing footsteps of the soldiers as they walk across the wet grass.
Watching the scene around me, I am moved to tears. Surprisingly, they well up from some unknown place inside of me. I cannot explain the feelings that rise with these tears. I only know they are the kind that come in times least expected healing wounds we otherwise wouldn’t know we have.
Here I am, a strong proponent of peace at a WWII American cemetery, I wouldn’t honestly be at if it wasn’t for my father’s passion for history. I am witnessing a deep respect in the stillness of the crowd and in the eyes of its people gathered here from different parts of the world. The threatening storm even stopped for a period of shared silence with the rest of us shining light as if to be paying its own respects for what had happened upon these shores so long ago. The poetry of the experience holds my attention and everything looks and feels surreal – the hazy sunlight beaming through the dark, thunderous clouds. The misty fog steaming up from the soaked graveyard grass. Wiping my tears from my face I can feel something shifting within me, telling me there is a reason I am witnessing all of this.
As the flag is folded and carried away with the soldiers, movement begins again like the rolling clapter of a pleased audience. We go back to our previous business of taking photos, reading the memorial walls and walking through the thousands of graves settled here. Thunder roars, rain begins to fall and life goes on for us again.
I cannot tell you what was going on in the hearts and minds of so many people there today. All I can say is, whatever it was…we felt it together and moved with it together. After reflection, I find it ironic that a place once torn by war, where a memorial cemetery exists because of that war – Today, exists as the place that I will forever remember as both witnessing and being a part of the largest unified peaceful presence of my life. It is here, I made peace with war.
The shift within me was one towards a deeper understanding of peace for myself. I decided, if I am such a supporter for peace, then maybe it’s time I make peace with her counterpart – war. After all, if there is one hurdle to overcome before achieving peace, would it not be to express compassion for the concepts of her only sworn enemy? To embrace her as a friend instead of foe? To give thanks for her time? her role? her existence in the world…finding that a place that bore war is the very same place that bears peace as well? Therefore, a time for peace. A role for peace and the existence of peace?
Just maybe, the key to true peace is to give thanks for what came before her, or maybe even with her for that matter. Or maybe, what she exists to dissolve. Maybe when we give thanks for where we once were, we find ourselves ready to mature beyond it and be who we truly are – paying respects to our journey, we are at Peace.