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  • Writer's pictureRosanne Knorr

Out of the Mist on Omaha Beach

Rain is not usually welcome on our travels, but sometimes it fits the occasion. A September visit to the historic WWII beaches in Normandy was going well until we got closer to Omaha Beach. Dark clouds started to close in, eventually turning to drizzle and fog beyond the windshield.

We thought about giving up, but we were there, so we parked in an empty lot, grabbed our rain ponchos, and headed toward where the sea had to be. The sky was charcoal with so little visibility that we couldn’t see much until the hulk of a concrete bunker appeared out of the haze. It occurred to us that the day the Allied soldiers reached this point had also been poor weather. We were just tourists awash in the downpour; they were fighting for their lives.

Everywhere we looked, history was raining down. Then one man appeared several hundred yards down the beach—coming ghost-like out of the haze and wearing, to our surprise, a Scottish tartan kilt. Where or why he was there, we never learned; it was just part of the aura.

Standing quietly, reflecting on that beach where so many young men fought and died on a dark day much like this one, music began to filter through the mist. Its majesty raised goosebumps as we heard “God Bless America.”

Back in the car, we headed to the American Cemetery where one mystery was solved when we realized the music had come from its carillon. The weather eventually cleared, but the mists of history were more meaningful than sun could ever have been.

Omaha Beach, Normandy

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