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Keeping The Flame

I'm in Saint Lo. Some of you know what that means, some don't. I'm in Normandy. In a shitty hotel, sharing a room with my son. He's 11. Wife and daughter down the hall.

Today we went to Mont Saint Michel. Tomorrow, Omaha Beach.

So to prepare, to "home school," I watch The Longest Day with The Boy -- with occasional pedantic interjections from Dad. The Boy gets the outlines. He gets none of the emotion. He's very smart but he doesn't get it. I guess I wouldn't have, either, when I was 11.

And do I get it? I don't understand what it meant to the men who are buried at the cemetery we'll visit tomorrow. I don't understand what it was like to be on that beach. But I have some notion of what it means in macrocosm.

I'm an American. Also, ethnically at least, a Jew. I know what they did for me, all those guys buried beneath those marble crosses and stars of David.

My Jewish-American son and Chinese-American daughter want to know if they can go in the water, get their feet wet on Omaha Beach. That's their primary concern, despite my best efforts to ram history down their throats.

So, I wonder. Is that a good thing or bad? Should a kid know the price that was paid? Or should they be free to be, as kids usually are, oblivious. And focused, in kid-like way, on their own Very Important Agenda?

Did those men buried beneath those crosses and stars die so my kids could understand their sacrifice? Or so that they could focus on whether Mom and Dad would let them splash in the water that was stained with brave men's blood?

This place weighs on me. I live because they died. And my kids? Well, they're kids.

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“Keeping The Flame”

  1. Anonymous MiM Says:

    Let them be kids. Before you know it they will be on their own in the "real world". In time they will better understand the reasons these brave men sacrificed their lives. What's important is that you gave them the opportunity to see Omaha Beach and "get their feet wet" along the way. Sometimes the answer is revealed in the question.