Rest in peace
The commemorations taking place this weekend to remember the sixtieth anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy have put me in a very thoughtful place. I have always had the utmost respect for what those extraordinary ordinary people did on that fateful day, the turning-point in what many people call the last "just" war. And seeing the history for myself in northern France - visiting the memorials, the cemetaries, the museums, even just visiting the beaches - has always made me feel incredibly humble and insignificant within my own life. I suppose that I may feel especially emotional about these things due to a small but significant amount of personal attachment - my beloved Grandad was involved in the War. I have tried to put myself in his shoes, but its so difficult to imagine the terror of that day. Though being unable to swim, my grandad, weighed down with equipment, was probably more terrified of the deep water than the Germans as his landing craft approached the beach at Utah...
My grandad died on New Years Eve (my tribute to his memory can be found by clicking HERE) And with the anniversary commemorations taking place this weekend, I've been finding my mind continuously drifting to my own memories of him, and to what I can only begin to imagine he went through sixty years ago, along with the hundreds of thousands like him.
I've been finding myself thinking about the last time I was in France with him, celebrating my Uncle's birthday in L'Escale. Grandad and Nan joined the family for the weekend, before embarking on another of their extensive jaunts driving across Europe. Unfortunately Grandad was taken ill, suffering what we feared may have been a stroke, and they had to cut short their holiday; despite everything, he still managed to drive the car back, right across Europe in one uncomfortable journey.
When his illness was properly diagnosed around Christmas time, we had hoped that he would still be with us right now; who knows, that he may even be able to travel to Normandy with the other veterans. Unfortunately this was not to be - unfortunate, in that some of the family were not able to say goodbye properly.
So this weekend I am remembering my grandad Frank, and I am remembering all those who fought to liberate France from German occupation, and I am remembering those whose lives are still being shattered by the politics of hate.
I can only hope that my Grandad's doctrine of forgiveness, understanding and reconciliation might one day be shared by the whole of humanity.