I recently had the honor of visiting Normandy, France, a place I have wanted to experience for many years. It is not every day, you get to stand on the very ground of a place which changed the course of human history. The blood, the bullets, the bodies are all gone, and to the people enjoying Omaha beach, it was just that, a beach…their beach. They flew kites, ran around with their kids, walked their dogs and enjoyed a nice August afternoon. As I looked out over the channel, I tried to envision the horror that happened that morning in 1944, I couldn’t, because it was such a beautiful peaceful scene. And maybe that is what you are supposed to feel now, not the chaos and tragedy of war, but the summer scenes of kids playing in the sun.
I dedicated The Bones of Saint Pierre to the “Greatest Generation” because these ordinary men and women, school teachers, factory workers, kids as young as 16 who lied about their age to enlist, accomplished something which should have never succeeded. It’s true, Eisenhower wrote a letter which was read to all the D Day troops before that morning. They were about to be a part of history, but most people don’t know that he had a second letter in his desk to be read to the world in case of failure. Because of those men on those beaches on that morning, that letter was never needed.
I found a free library stand on Omaha Beach and placed a book inside as a small token of my appreciation for everything that happened 75 years ago, and for the people who today may want to read it as they simply enjoy their beach.