I’ve mentioned several times that I went to Bath during the summer of 2012. I was there for five amazing weeks, and at the end of that time, I didn’t go home, instead I went to France. I met my family in Paris, and from there we drove to Rouen for a night, and then we went onward to Normandy, and later back to Versailles and Paris. Now, one thing you need to know about me: I have always been fascinated by Paris. I’m not sure where this fascination came from – Madeline? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Passport to Paris? The animated Anastasia movie? – I don’t know. All I know is that from a very young age I knew that I wanted to take French in high school (I did) and that when I went to college I wanted to study abroad in Paris. That was it. Case closed. No questions asked.
Until I found out about the Bath program, that was pretty much still my goal. Once it came down to deciding where to go, however, France just wasn’t a perfect fit for me. Pretty much any program I went on there would be taught in French, which wouldn’t mean anything for me credit-wise since I had already filled my language requirement. I don’t regret not going to France at all for study abroad. And luckily, I got to go there anyways.
At any rate, back to the story. So we drove up to Normandy (An interesting experience) and stayed for about three days. Let me say this: that was one of the coolest places I have been. We went to pretty much all the various D-Day Landing beaches. I’ve always found history fascinating, especially when you can really feel like you’re experiencing it. We went to Utah Beach, one of the D-Day Landing sites. This picture shows what it looked like at low tide, which was when the soldiers had to disembark onto the shore. We didn’t walk all the way down to the water’s edge because it was so far – at least a mile. Imagine what it would have been like for those soldiers who had no cover in the early morning light.
Utah Beach, Normandy
One of the other stops we made in Normandy that has stayed with me was our trip to the American Cemetery. This is where soldiers were buried who died during the war in Europe. It overlooks Omaha Beach. I can pretty much say that I have never seen a more beautiful location for a cemetery – and that’s part of the reason it’s stayed with me. The scenery is in absolute contrast to what happened on that beach so long ago. And the silence. Up on the bluff in the cemetery, you can barely hear the waves. Everything is silent, everything is in awe and remembrance of those people who lost their lives.
The other thing that has stuck with me is the opposite of silence: the music. When we had entered the cemetery museum, we signed a guestbook and saw that some people had come in just before us that were from the same town. We found the man, his son, and his father (a World War II veteran) who had signed the book, and found out that his other son would be singing later on in the cemetery with his chorus. We decided to check out the singing, and found out that the chorus was actually from a high school near our house. It was the weirdest moment of being in a small world. The chorus sang a couple of songs, but the one that has stuck with me is “I’ll Be Seeing You.” This song was very popular during World War II, so it was appropriate for the chorus to sing it. Standing there, the wind gently blowing, listening to this song that so many millions of people turned to for comfort during the war, surrounded by a hauntingly beautiful setting…It’s a hard feeling to describe. Music has always been important to me, and I think it can create such strong, powerful feelings within you. It made me feel the despair, hope, strength, and love of that entire era, and reminded me that the whole world was forever changed by those events. That moment will forever be etched in my mind.
“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”