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Colleville-sur-Mer Diary: Sacred Ground

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
(It is sweet and right to die for your country.)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

The Colleville-sur-Mer Cemetery in Normandy, located on the bluff just above Omaha Beach, doesn’t exalt the glory of dying in war; the green grass, the white marble headstones and the infinite seascape serve only to gently honor Americans who gave their lives in the first step toward freeing Western Europe in the springtime of 1944. Some 9,387 men are buried here, and a memorial wall lists the names of 1,557 Americans missing in action. The grounds are movingly immaculate, though I might be particularly sensitive to green and white. These colors of life and purity sanctify men who fought with discipline and resourcefulness, and without complaint.

Collieville Cemetery.JPG

A new visitors center at Colleville notes the trinity of Competence, Courage and Sacrifice that sustained the troops in combat there and on the neighboring beaches. America expected every man to do his duty, and it seems that no less than that occurred. The exhibits celebrate the quiet resolve and seriousness of purpose of the D-Day soldiers.

Addendum: World’s most beautiful cemetery?

Addendum: Normandy has not forgotten the invasion. Even the windows of gas stations have signs saying “Welcome to our Liberators.”


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