Normandy: The Stories Under the Stones

My father was a naval officer in World War II. As a child, I used to look with awe at the photographs he took—he was always taking photographs. In particular, I remember seeing his picture of the signing ceremony at the end of the war. I can’t imagine what a moving moment that must have been.

Nor can I imagine being asked to do what U.S. soldiers were asked to do on Omaha Beach in 1944. In Normandy, the people haven’t forgotten. They treat Americans with such reverence, gratitude, and appreciation … and I felt the same emotions as I stood in the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, gazing upon row after row of pristine white crosses. As a mother, I couldn’t stop thinking about their ages—these “men” were 25, 24, and under. I got this catch in my throat: They’d be so much older than I am now, yet they’ll always be thought of as young. I was just quiet—you can’t be anything but quiet.

I’ve seen the lavender and sunflower fields of Provence … the endless vineyards of Burgundy … the laid-back luxury of the Cote d’Azur … and of course, the timeless treasures of Paris, where I lived for a month and had so many amazing experiences—including strolling along the Seine, hearing a choir sing like angels in Notre Dame, and lying under the Eiffel Tower beneath a full moon. So many stunningly beautiful places … but Normandy is the most important. That’s why I was so moved by this month’s traveler story. Calvin Lyons, himself a veteran, was so inspired by his visit to the American Cemetery, he decided to fill an entire book with “the stories buried under those stones.”

I know firsthand that travel has the power to change our outlook on life—but it so rare and so special when it literally changes the way we live. Have your travels ever inspired you to create—by writing, drawing, painting, or any other form of expression? I look forward to hearing all about it; I hope you’ll tell me your story.