Thursday, June 20, 2013

once again, holding pattern

Folks:
The semester ended over a month ago, but I've actually blogged less in the time since than during the actual semester.  We're once again in a holding pattern.  Activity to resume hopefully next week. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

irreducible

Some days do matter more than others.  Like today, June 6, 69 years ago:

















h/t wikipedia

If you ever get a chance to visit the Normandy beaches, take it.  When you make it past the American cemetery, go down to the beach, turn around so the ocean's at your back, and then look up.  As galvanizing as this photo is (and it is iconic), nothing brings it home like being there.

And as riveting as Saving Private Ryan is, being there is different.

13 years ago I went there, having seen earlier in May the British celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuations.  Most of the WWII histories will make the same point:  the astonishing reversal the Allies experienced, going from fleeing continental Europe on fishing vessels and motorboats to, four years later, the largest amphibious invasion ever.  Less than a year later, the Allies and the Soviets stood victorious--and already conspiring about the other's intentions.

All won at the hands of the guys pictured above who, when the gate dropped, walked forward and started wading..

I stood on the beach, looked up and marveled at it.  Feelings similar to visiting the Copse of Trees at Gettysburg or my first view of St. Peter's Basilica -- actually standing at such a historic place and realizing it--can be overwhelming.

There are some times and places that matter more. Of course, along the edges of the beaches, even in 2000, beachside vacation cabins encroached, just like the tourist knickknack shops along the Via della Conciliazione or the Civil War memorabilia shops in Gettysburg.  So it is possible, given inclination, perhaps age (I'll admit I didn't "get" Gettysburg when I first saw it as a high school senior), and historical/spiritual (un)awareness, to see great places and shuffle along unmoved.

Kind of like when AJ Soprano went to Washington DC.