Thursday, June 30, 2011

HOME AGAIN

"No one realizes how good it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."  
~Lyn Yutang

However, I will miss turn-down service and chocolates on my pillow.  Bob, could you continue that? Oh, and fresh towels every day. That would also be nice.


"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." 
 ~G.K. Chesterton

You mean a soda costs ONE DOLLAR?  Not FIVE DOLLARS, as it did in Norway and Sweden?  Wow, the USA is not so bad after all!  Now if we could just get Orangina Rouge and Bitter Lemon at our local grocery store.



"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." 
 ~Mark Twain

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." 
 ~Aldous Huxley


Our favorite destination on this trip?  Moscow, Russia. We were stunned by the scenery and we loved the people and the history.  As our guide said, "Russia has had some of the worst governing in history, yet they still managed to  create a Tolstoy, a Dostoyevsky, a Pushkin, a Chekhov, a Baryshnikov, a Rachmaninoff, a Tchaikovsky, and many others.  The Russians know how to overcome."


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
~ Mark Twain

"Spend your money on experiences, not on things."
~ Doris Kenison


Monday, June 6, 2011

D-DAY 2011: MEMORIES OF OUR TRIP TO NORMANDY

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” 
~Henry Miller

In December 2000, our family traveled to France and Germany.  We couldn't pass up the excellent tour guides in each country: Rachael, who was just finishing a semester abroad in Paris, and my mother, who was in Germany for the holidays. (More on our time with Mom in a future post.)

Years ago we started making a list after our family trips that we titled "Things We Want to Remember."  I thought that on this 67th anniversary of D-Day, it would be appropriate to remind my children of a few things that we wrote in our family journal about our visit to Normandy. Here are a few "Things We Want to Remember" from December 22, 2000.


•  The video footage of World War II at the War Memorial in Caen.

•  The stones with peace inscriptions from all countries involved in the war, and the flags of both Allied and Axis powers alike flying together.



•  The statue of the rising spirit of a young man in the plaza at the American Cemetery with a wall of names of those missing in action behind it.


•  The orchard-like rows and rows of white stone crosses and Jewish Stars of David, inscribed with the name, date of death, and home state of the soldier.


•  The inscription on the crosses of unknown  soldiers:
HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY
A COMRADE IN ARMS
KNOWN BUT TO GOD

•  The long, sandy, peaceful Omaha Beach where so much death and destruction occurred.  Ponies trotting down the beach pulling surreys.


•  Pointe du Hoc with its deep bomb craters now covered in green grass, its grim bunkers filled with the out-of-place laughter of school groups, and its rolls of barbed wire still standing.


•  The French school group that seemed to be following us around Normandy, the girls who kept trying to talk to an embarrassed Sam, and the one who said in a thick French accent, "Fine! Don't say hi to me then!"


•  The American tank and memorial to Patton in the town square in Avranches.

Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the D-Day order to attack on June 6, 1944.  In part, he said, "I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.  We will accept nothing less than full victory.  Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."


It is easy now for us to look back and call this a glorious moment, and insofar as it brought about the end of the war, it was indeed a great day.  However, I do remember how anti-war my mother was.  She and others who actually experienced the horrors of invasion and bombings and death probably looked back on this day with pain.  Seeing the rows of crosses--each representing someone's son, husband, father, brother, sweetheart, or friend--was a moving experience.  I hope my children will always remember both lessons of our day in Normandy: the courage and sacrifice on one hand, and the tremendous loss and suffering on the other.

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