The Freedom to Sunbathe.

As I was hanging out on Seabrook Island Beach in South Carolina this glorious Memorial Day Weekend, I thought about a conversation that I had three years ago on the coast of France.

We were on Omaha Beach in Normandy.  It’s the beach where Allied Forces came ashore under heavy resistance from German machine gunners on D-Day in 1944.  It’s a sacred place where thousands of brave men laid down their lives in an effort to free Europe and the world from a maniacal dictator. 

On that afternoon three years ago, I was appalled to see people sunbathing, throwing Frisbees, drinking beer and wine, having picnics, laughing and generally having a good time on this beach.  How can they be doing this on such hallowed ground?  Isn’t this disrespectful to the memories of the men who gave their lives on this very sand?  Shouldn’t Omaha Beach be a memorial?  Shouldn’t it be a natural museum? 

I asked all these questions of a veteran of WWII who was our tour guide that day.  His answer shocked me.

He said the men who made it though Omaha Beach were asked the same questions.  He said the reason that they took the beach and liberated France was simple:  So people could live in freedom.  Before D-Day, Omaha Beach was just a beach where families got together and sunbathed and enjoyed themselves.  They said that to truly honor the men who died there was not to make it into a memorial.  To honor them, the beach should be what it was before they got there:  A place where families gathered with friends to have a good time.

Wow.

As I sit on the beach in South Carolina today having a wonderful time with family and friends, I’d like to thank those brave men who liberated Europe 69 years ago, and tip my hat to the brave men and women who defend our freedom today.  

Happy Memorial Day.