To witness the vastness of it all left me speechless. It became so great and so singular all in one glance. Row after row of white marble crosses and stars of David glare in the face of the effervescent sun that poked out behind the shelter of clouds. They represent the spirit and courage of those who risked their lives for us. Each soul rises from the grave, like the youth from the sea. The sea brought them here on boat and barge and now they rest eternally by the sea, overlooking that sandy beach where so many risked their safety for the fight and lost.
There are no sounds here, save the rustling wind through the pine trees and the occasional bird swirling a tune around. Visitors are quiet out of respect. They only wander aimlessly down the endless rows of crosses or search for a long lost loved one. The graves are quiet too. Every man and woman buried here has a story to tell, but their words are silenced. There are too many life stories for one person to hear, so we bow our heads in reverence or pick flowers to place on a random grave and hope that we hear all the soldier’s stories and remind them they are not forgotten.
Chester Mosher, a staff sergeant of the 115th Infantry 29th Division, lost his life on June 18, 1944 … only 12 days after D-Day. There are no flowers on his grave, no markings make his cross more distinguished than any one else’s. He was from Maryland, my home state and in that moment I felt that I connected with this soldier on a level different than any other soul resting here. Mosher could have been my age, his world full of possibility, swept up by war. And now sixty-four years later someone is pausing to recognize his life, although it was taken abruptly by the violence of war. All these soldiers were swept away by war and their families too. No stone was left unturned, no person buried here left unaffected by war’s power and uncaring hand. They all lie together, comrade by comrade, stranger by stranger and soldier by soldier. Silently waiting for someone to hear their story, to visit their grave and pay their respects for just one life out of thousands.