Day 868b, The Allied and German Graves at Normandy
Atop the cliffs at Normandy, ten thousand crosses stand
To mark the price the Allies paid to free a foreign land.
And, down the road, an ossuary holds the German dead.
Young men, Allies and German, welcomed to their gory bed. (1)
As Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, all watched the Devil’s dance,
Young men of many nations sprayed their blood on northern France.
Today bands play; flags wave; and leaders give these men their due.
Now only three percent survive who fought in World War II.
How many of those lying here could tell us why they died? (2)
What would they say if we asked those who fought on either side?
Were “freedom” or “der Vaterland” worth such a sacrifice?
Upon reflection, would most think they paid too high a price?
Peace came to Europe, not elsewhere, for wars go on and on.
The dream mankind might dwell in peace has faded, maybe gone.
For some, it’s oil supplies; for many, who has the right god.
But either will suffice to send young men to die abroad.
Is it some sort of progress that we send young women too?
With legislatures here at home restricting them anew? (3)
And, should poor, young folks fight for rich men who refused to serve?
What would they say if you asked them what they fight to preserve?
So, D Days come and go; white “crosses in mute witness stand.” (4)
And, down the road the Germans lie, the pawns of high command.
We gather and we say the words and then go out to eat.
A nice French wine will soften pain of victory and defeat.
(1) See Scots Wha Hae, by Robert Burns, 1793. This is a poem about the battle of Bannockburn in 1314, a Scottish victory over the English King, Edward II.
(2) See The Green Fields of France, by Eric Bogle, a beautiful, mournful song about young men who died (in vain?) in World War I. William McBride’s gravestone, starting the first verse was a soldier who died in 1916.
(3) The rights to abortion and even contraception are under continuous attack here in the USA today.
(4) In the last verse of The Green Fields of France.