289 Steps

The water’s edge at Omaha Beach

I wrote the following the day after my visit to Omaha Beach in Normandy in September, 2013.  Sharing it for Memorial Day.

289 Steps.

Nothing particularly notable about that.

Walking leisurely, it took me a little over 2 minutes to walk those 289 steps.

It was not a physically challenging thing to do. Something I probably could have done with my eyes closed and still maintained a reasonably straight line.

289 steps.

That’s how far it was from the seawall at Omaha Beach to the water’s edge yesterday.

289 leisurely strides.

The sun happened to be out at that particular moment….a contrast to the torrential rain that we had experienced half an hour earlier, and it was shining on the small whitecaps slowly rolling into the shore. Behind me, the cafés in the little French village had closed after lunch, as is the custom, and it being just past the end of the normal tourist season, there were only a few folks around on this brisk day looking at the Memorial to “Les Braves”.

I slowly turned around and looked back at the seawall.

289 steps.

It didn’t seem far to me at all, standing here on an almost-autumn day in 2013.

I stood there with the water lapping at my feet and squinted in the sun, staring at the seawall.

I wondered how far it would have seemed 69 years ago.

Under fire.

A damn sight further than 289 steps.

Of this, I am more than certain.