The sweat from uncertainty runs down several soldier’s face as they prepare to meet their fate. Looking around at each other during a chilling early morning on June 6th, they wait as the tanker carries them through the ocean on to the shore. There’s an eerie silence challenging their psyche’s as panic and anxiety begin to writhe up into their brains.
Then, in an instant, the machine stops, and all they can hear is loud thuds in unison with thunder screeching in their direction. Immediately they feel fear, their legs stiffen and their hearts pound. A quick word rises from their captain and then they feel a sudden jolt of adrenaline. Then, they rush out into the light.
Racing bravely to the fight. As they parry their way through, they see their comrades being clipped down by a firestorm of bombs and turrets from above. Those that dodge the early fire trek on, not looking back at the dismemberment of their comrades. They rush until they reach the cliff and climb up or until a bomb or bullet strikes them down. This occurred for hours until the allied forces were able to successfully storm the beaches of Normandy and begin their assault on the Axis Powers to defeat Hitler. Some never survived the arrival.
Skip to 60 years later, I’m standing on the very beaches that these soldiers risked their lives to reach. Here I am at their gravesites standing on the very places they stormed. Imagining the hardships they endured just to reach the beach. I stand on sword beach, on a foggy morning looking at the endless white marble crosses that line up. A couple of Star of David’s stand out, however, the site here is the unbelievable gravesite that obliterates my entire mind.
As I sit here and look at the valiant names, some that never even reached this part of the beach because they were gunned down as they walked out their tanks. I think about everything I’ve accomplished in my 16-year-old life, and I realize I’ve done nothing.
In the most humbling of experiences, I reorganize my life due to this traumatic experience witnessing this amount of death. I sit back and bask in the beautiful disaster that is presented in front of me as I contemplate who I am and where I stand in life.
As a person that feels everything, as an empathetic soul, I fantasize of the screams in agony and the blind panic some of these soldiers felt as they ran away to their imminent death.
When the allied forces stormed Normandy beach, they were met with hellfire from the German forces from above. There is evidence of bombings and graves that scattered across the shoreline for people to witness.
The sacrifices of these soldiers reveal bravery unmatched. One could not imagine the torture of uncertainty they went through. Running straight into the fire, not knowing if you’ll survive or not. Most likely, the first soldiers didn’t make it.
And here I am, standing in the sand looking deep into the ocean that polymerizes into the horizon wondering what will I do with the life I’ve been gifted.
As I walk through the thick fog reading the countless names that have their lives to save the world I wonder what will I do in my life to change this world. At 16, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Normandy and experience this extraordinary site.
Who are you? What do you want to be? I asked. Where will you make your mark in this world? Me as a snot-nosed 16-year-old boy with no idea what he was doing with his life, had an out of body experience that revealed to me how insignificant I am in this world. And it was at that moment, I repurposed my life and began pushing for what I want. Skip 10 years later I now have 2 degrees and am pursuing a writing career. Still think about that moment to this day. Never forgetting that humbling experience.
As we are in a current climate of panic, uncertainty and disarray, I behoove you to look deep into your own purpose. For these soldiers fought bravely through the uncertainty. Who will you be? How will you react in this mass hysteria and confusion caused by the current pandemic? How will you treat others and yourself in the future? Now’s the time for self evaluation in a time of crisis. As the world has slowed down, nows the time for you to speed up.
Start that business plan you’ve been planning, publish that book, article, etc.. Now’s the time to reorganize, reorganize and see the change you desire. In this humbling moment that has many of us across the world quarantined, now’s the time to rise, just as these brave soldiers did 60 years ago when fighting for the fate of the world. We may not know what bodes next for our future, But we do know that we hold the control on the tragectory of our fates.
So I ask, who are you? what will you be in this crisis?