What a Statue Told Me

Updated on August 19, 2017

In The American Cemetery At Normandy

This hauntingly inspiring statue in the American Cemetery at Normandy is a stark reminder of the cost in human lives from unchecked bigotry.
This hauntingly inspiring statue in the American Cemetery at Normandy is a stark reminder of the cost in human lives from unchecked bigotry.

Has Our Comfort Led To Complacency?

I am troubled. Here I sit in the comfort of my own home, safe, unworried...and I am troubled by the fact that my comfort is not universal, that untold millions suffer on this Earth, and that suffering is because an equal number do not care. Having traveled completely around the world more than once, I have seen poverty, sickness, disease, sorrow such as most here in America will never experience. Oh, of a surety, there have been many joys along that road, smiling faces of those who have something to be thankful for, but what I found is that sorrow is universal, that evil people know no bounds and are not limited to any nationality. But, I always felt somehow safer when I got home to the U.S., because in my beloved country, we had laws to prevent evil people from rising to power, and we had a social consciousness that made us try to help those in need. America has, for all of my life, been “The Great Dream,” the land of promise that so many foreigners dreamed of making their home. But maybe I am living in a dream, maybe it is all make believe, because today I am seeing a rise of evil that so many politicians are afraid to name...for political expediency, they have sold their souls and will not speak out against the rise of an old evil that used to exist only “over there” in the lands where I traveled. In the not too distant past, it reared its ugly head, took millions of lives, then went underground for a while, only to resurface in such places as Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria and other such non-American places. I was safe from this scourge, because I could visit the museums “over there,” gaze pensively at the photos in the museums and wonder how “these” countries could EVER have allowed such barbarisms to flourish...and I could always come home to my beloved America, home of laws, home of respect for each other, land of the FREE! But something seems to have followed me here. Now I wonder if, because we did not do enough here to end suffering, to end hatred, to end bigotry, that because we have turned a blind eye while sitting in the comforts that we each have, a festering cancer has come to claim its dues.

Have We Missed The Road Signs?

The sorrow starts with one man, who, through his own narcissistic goals, must lash out against all those who deny him his misperceived destiny of power and wealth. So, he finds a scapegoat to blame for his “lack,” and he sets about telling others that they, too, deserve more, and they would have more...if only he were in control and the “scapegoat” were out of the way. Adolph Hitler used exactly that same tactic, and it worked. When so many people paid him no mind, because he was just a loser on the fringe, a lunatic with crazy ideas that would NEVER catch on, the cancer that he was metastasized, and he became Chancellor of Germany. The world would never again be the same. Many are still alive who experienced the Holocaust that followed his rise. Even though Hitler was dead by the time I was born, I can still remember hearing his name being spoken with disgust by all those who lived through the horrors of his carnage. There was no one who could find anything glorious about the swastika, Hitler’s misappropriation of an ancient Buddhist religious symbol that now represented his evil empire. Strangely, that disgust began to fade over the years as our own country began to experience the great post-war economic boom. As our comforts grew, we took care of ourselves, slowly forgot about others, and Hitler faded into the ash bin of failed egotists. Of course, there were the books like “The Diary of Anne Frank” that reminded us to cry for the young Jewish girl who died in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, as well as the truly tragic memories recounted by Corrie Ten Boom in her book, “The Hiding Place.” She was erroneously released by the Nazis after her father and sister died in another of Hitler’s hells. The survivors of Hitler’s atrocities were bent on seeing to it that another Hitler never, ever arose again...but they began to die off. Their voices got older and fewer, and those of us who remember them are also getting older and fewer. Thus it is that I sit here in the comfort of my home, and I wonder about this generation that has not heard the voices of the past. Is there a “dues” that we who remember should have been paying all along? Is there more that we could have done to prevent what I am seeing on the television? Instead of constantly enjoying the comforts and safety that our post-war society taught us was our right, have we missed the road sign that says that we have fallen asleep at the wheel?

Anne Frank And Her Tragic Diary

The Diary of Anne Frank riveted the world, because it told the true story of how even young children were selected for death by the Nazis.
The Diary of Anne Frank riveted the world, because it told the true story of how even young children were selected for death by the Nazis.

Corrie ten Boom - A Survivor Of The Holocaust

Her Christian family hid Jews from the Nazis.  When they were captured and sent to the Nazi death camps, only she survived.  Read "The Hiding Place."
Her Christian family hid Jews from the Nazis. When they were captured and sent to the Nazi death camps, only she survived. Read "The Hiding Place."

Hitler In America?

When did Hitler rise from the ash bin to which he had been so properly and morally relegated? When did it become fashionable to kiss his ring, to wear his regalia, to fly his flag...with pride? I see these young fools strutting around pretending to know history, when all they know is the face of a madman whom they never met, a tyrant who seems to offer them immortality, power and wealth, all for the taking. It is theirs if they simply act like him, admire him, honor him, and follow him...and our politicians stand by and say nothing, just like they did when Hitler was young and on the ascendancy. You never know your house has termites until the floor falls in. Sometimes, the damage is irreversible, because you did not notice until you were overwhelmed, and our country has become like that proverbial house filled with termites. While we sit in our comforts thinking that sadness and sorrow are “over there,” that such things are the problems of other people, such an opiate has allowed the rise of Nazism and other such bigotries to get dangerously out of control...right here in the safety of America, the land of laws and great social consciousness.

Countless Graves

Jew and non-Jew died together fighting a man who tried to divide the world into segregated camps in which one race was considered superior to all others.
Jew and non-Jew died together fighting a man who tried to divide the world into segregated camps in which one race was considered superior to all others.

The Cost Of Bigotry

Years ago, I stood in the American cemetery at Normandy. People who go there speak of an eerie sensation of great sadness that comes over one when entering that sacred memorial to lost lives. I thought they were exaggerating, but the minute I set foot inside the parameters of those countless white grave markers, I became overwhelmed to the point that I could not speak. I was numb with sorrow. It was as if the souls of those thousands of young men were still there, haunting the grounds, perhaps fellowshipping with their fellow fallen comrades. It sounds far fetched, but the feeling was not; it was very, very real. As I moved through this mist of sorrow that never left me the entire time I was there, I stared reverently at the countless white stone markers, reading some of the names. Though unknown to me, I read them just the same, as if by doing so, I had shown them some symbol of respect for their immeasurable sacrifices. They had given their lives to stop Hitler, to tear down the Nazi flags, to restore peace, and to end the bloodshed that took millions of lives needlessly. Millions!! And here before me were so many of them…

Looking Out Over Omaha Beach

Overlooking Omaha Beach from the same vantage point the Nazis used to fire at American soldiers on D-Day.
Overlooking Omaha Beach from the same vantage point the Nazis used to fire at American soldiers on D-Day.

Omaha Beach

I walked down to the point above that famous beach where, only a few decades ago, Nazi gun emplacements were shooting directly at my fellow Americans as they landed on Normandy beach. Looking out over the waters, I could see the indescribable past, the ships that had flooded the distant horizon on that fateful day. I could hear the sounds of the guns firing from right where I now stood, bullets that were taking the lives of young men as they landed on the beach below me. I felt somewhat guilty being able to stand there in peace and comfort. What had I sacrificed? I wanted to go down to that beach and look up at this horrible place where Nazis had rained gunfire and death down on my fellow citizens so many years ago. There was a small, well-worn path that led through the underbrush and down from the cliff. I took it. Once on the beach, I looked up and wondered how anyone with his right mind could have left the safety of his landing craft and exposed his body and life on this open beach where nothing was there to protect him from the gunfire coming down from that hill. All these many years later, shrapnel from that day still washed up on that beach, and I reverently picked up several pieces to hold in my hand. Touching these pieces was my only connection to them, these pieces of that battle, shorn off of their armaments, their guns, their ships...and I put them in my pocket so that I would never forget what sorrow brought them into existence. I still have them.

Omaha Beach

On Omaha Beach looking up at the cliffs where Nazis rained down heavy gun fire.  This is where so many young American soldiers were sacrificed.
On Omaha Beach looking up at the cliffs where Nazis rained down heavy gun fire. This is where so many young American soldiers were sacrificed.

In That Sacred Normandy Cemetery

After walking the beach for a long while, pondering often the cliffs above and trying to imagine myself in the place of so many of those who died here, right here, I quietly went back up to the cemetery. Occasionally, the sound of meditative chimes and bells would play, as if to entertain the souls of those young soldiers who still lingered there, who did not know that they had passed from this life to the plane of existence beyond this one. I knew that this music played for them. It was not for me. I was merely a visitor here, someone who would be able to go home, to the comfort of my safe home in America and sit on my sofa and relax when I wanted to. No, this music was not for me. How selfish for anyone visiting here to think such stupidly selfish thoughts. No matter who you are, if you are in that cemetery in Normandy, when that beautiful music begins to play, you stop, you stand still, and you find that you cannot speak, because there is a lump in your throat that will not allow you. If you open your mouth, you will give in and cry. I listened to the strains of otherworldly chimes and did not speak. This music was for them. They died here, and they were still here...listening.

When the music finished, I found that I could move again, and I wandered silently over to a monument where a reflecting pool leads up to a larger-than-life, bronze statue of a young man. The statue represents a young soldier who has apparently just been killed during this war. The shirt has been torn away from his body by the blast, his expression is one of shock, of confusion, and it is also one of non-acceptance to his fate. He has seen others die all around him that day, and he is filled with fear, unspeakable and terrifying fear, hoping that he would be one who made it home. He is looking heavenward, his youthful hand outstretched as if to take the hand of an angel that has reached out to him...and his body will never see his welcoming home in America ever again. Here is where he lies, forever a memorial to those who fought against the Nazis. He, along with millions of others, was part of the “dues” required by Madness before He would give them Hitler and leave the land. Madness does not die, he just goes away for a while, sleeps in a cave somewhere, and awakens to demand another “fare” when it strikes His fancy.

Words From A Statue

I stood at the base of that statue, and as I pondered all that it meant to me, I was taken from my reverie by a group of French school kids who recognized my tourist attire as being decidedly American, and they asked me what the words were at the base of that marvelous statue and what they meant. I looked down, and it was nearly impossible for me to speak, I was so overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow. Somehow, I managed to get the words out, but I was only able to speak just long enough to translate into French for them the words that were there beneath that young soldier… “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” I could not have engaged them with another single word, such was the lump in my throat. I looked away.

I will always remember what that statue told me that day. He said, “I was young, I had a life I wanted to live. But there was a great evil in the land, and I had to choose to either go and confront this evil, or be consumed by it, because it was growing. I did not want to die. Tell those who loved me never to forget me. And tell others that they must never forget what made all of this sorrow happen. We let it happen, my generation. We let it grow until it cost us too much to end it. Remember me. Remember all of us. Let our lesson not be forgotten.”

Remember This Statue

Let us never forget the cost of bigotry.
Let us never forget the cost of bigotry.

Stand Up And Speak Out

Germany outlawed all Nazi items. It is a crime there to display a Nazi flag, to wear a Nazi helmet, to even hold a Nazi rally. Yet, here in the safety of my home, I am watching lunacy as “quasi-Americans” claim to merely be exercising their right of free speech so that they can parade the symbols of a dead madman. Let there be no more Anne Franks. Let there be no more Corrie ten Booms. Let there be no more statues to young men who were sacrificed to the god of Madness. Nazism is Molech. It will consume your youth. I saw a statue that spoke to me. Whatever it takes for that statue of that young man who died in Normandy fighting Hitler and his Nazis to speak to you, may we as a nation wake up before it is too late. The reckless youths who cannot remember the sorrows of Nazism are summoning Madness from His cave. He has awakened, He is looking for another place to feed, and all of those who remain silent as his servants amass will awaken one morning, and the point of no return will have passed, the world will turn dark once again, and we who sat in the safety of our homes and did nothing to demand the death of Madness will experience a world we thought we could safely forget.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 4 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Sanxuary,

      It behooves each and every one of us to speak truth to power, to call out evil when we see it and to acknowledge that evil is unacceptable. To turn a blind eye simply because of hyper-partisan attachment to a particular political party is the ultimate betrayal of our country. Some people are so afraid to call out someone on their "team," as if doing so will cost them the White House, that they will look away from evil and pretend it does not exist, when if that evil was from the other "team," they would be in the streets. We all need to stop being blind to reality and call out evil when we see it. It is the only way we all win and preserve this great country. These are trying times for America, and even for the world at large, so it is incumbent on each and every one of us to wake up and speak the truth, not some memorized political talking point that serves as cover for our political party. If we are truly loyal Americans, then there is no political party worth the destruction of our country. We are Americans first. United we stand, divided we fall.

      Brian

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 4 months ago

      Regardless of what you think of the Bible it has a core to its teachings. First is the recognition of evil. No good comes from evil and its easily recognized by lies and deciet. Its also recognized by its results that no good can come from evil. Bad decisions equals bad results. If i was an Republican it was this knowledge alone that would have kept me from voting for him and this knowledge was obvious years ago. The results of today were easily predicted and now you know the truth from a man who has lied every day. its pathetic that people support this and claim to be so many things they are not. Your not Patriotic, and in truth you only represent yourself in complete hypocrisy from God if you believe in him to any child who thinks there is a future in such hate.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 4 months ago from Pennsylvania

      A message from the children of Johnny Cash:

      We were alerted to a video of a young man in Charlottesville, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile. He was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of Johnny Cash, our father. We were sickened by the association.

      Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice. He received humanitarian awards from, among others, the Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith, and the United Nations. He championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners. Along with our sister Rosanne, he was on the advisory board of an organization solely devoted to preventing gun violence among children. His pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics. He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred. The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor.

      Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.’

      We do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed. We value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness. We respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity. We recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.

      To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.

      We Choose Love.

      Rosanne Cash

      Kathy Cash

      Cindy Cash

      Tara Cash

      John Carter Cash

      August 16, 2017

      ‘Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.’ Rep. John Lewis

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 4 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Ken,

      Either we are part of the solution, or we are part of the problem. Either we learn to live together as brothers, or we shall surely die together as fools. Racism and hate are the wrong tools to use for peace and unity. Either we are the United States of America, and we stay strong through enforcing that noble ideal, or we are the Divided States of America, and we die a lonely death barely noticed in the pages of future history books. ALL of us have value, not just some. God did not create any zeroes, He did not create any mistakes, and He gave us all a reason to contribute to this great garden of diversity. We must learn to live together. Our future depends on this. If you were in a burning building, and someone came to your rescue, all of your prejudices would instantly disappear. This world is a burning building sometimes, and we all need to be the helping hand that brings hope instead of despair.

      Let us be rays of light instead of clouds of darkness.

      Brian

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 4 months ago from Florida

      Lets see... who controls the media, who paints us a picture as to just how deplorable and evil Trump is?

      The same media that practically stayed silent as Obama berated our police (those who protect & serve & uphold the law) throughout his eight years, to culminate during his final year with groups like BLM advocating for the deaths of police, and deliberate murders (ambushes) being acted out on police across the nation.

      There is a difference between reporting facts, and altering facts, there is a difference between informing the people of the truth, and fabricating falsehood (or what is reported) so that the population never knows what happens.

      The Third Reich was a state controlled entity in its entirety, all media was state controlled, all school systems were state controlled, the ruling government had no checks and balances, the powers that were in charge could not be removed.

      Yes, America has become much like the Third Reich, in that you are correct.

      But Trump is not the monster who is at its head, he is the fool being swallowed and digested whole by an establishment out of control, that no longer has any checks and balances, and that no longer answers to the people that it is supposed to 'serve'.

      The people who control the direction this country moves in, the people who control the news you hear or read, the people who run the government agencies that are supposed to be oversight to protect the people (IE - FDA, SEC) are the same exact people who were there ten, twenty, thirty years ago or more...

      Presidents come and go, but those corrupt Congressmen who have been driving this nation, gifting us NAFTA, ACA, WTO, Glass Steagall, Community Reinvestment '94, etc. have remained throughout it all.

      Those people answer to trillion dollar corporations, and powerful foreign nation interests, they don't answer to the people, nor do they concern themselves overly much for the people's welfare... and this has become abundantly clear to many Americans.

      That is why the media in extreme earnest works so hard these days to vilify every action and word Trump makes, he is the perfect court jester to distract everyone from the real crimes going on, the real criminals in D.C., or so they thought, but what they found during the election, and what they are finding now, that no matter how much negative press they give him, no matter how many 'leaders' (be they in Hollywood, or D.C.) speak out passionately against him... too many Americans aren't buying into it.

      After 30 years of wage regression, benefits reductions, job loss, and home repossessions, there are too many millions of disillusioned Americans that will never buy into the propaganda or Politically Correct lashings again.

      If they succeed in making Trump's Administration a failure, then America fails, if they remove him or kill him, America becomes more unstable than at anytime in living memory...

      In that sense, he could be like Reagan, who was also despised by many in his first year(s) (though not with this type of vehemence or violence, but this is a different era) if Trump is successful in his endeavors to lift the economy to growth not seen in decades, America will do well, and all Americans will benefit... if that doesn't occur we are heading towards strife and violence not seen in America since the 19th century, as often accompanies a failing economy and failing state.

    • Hanavee profile image
      Author

      Brian Gray 4 months ago from Pennsylvania

      Coffeequeen,

      To think that a time such as that of Nazi Germany could begin to take place again, and not over there, but here in America, is astounding, because it takes so little to stop this maddening march to horrific sorrow and great loss. We all have to speak out against hate and bigotry...now, before it is too late.

      Thank you for reading this one.

      Brian

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

      You spoke such wise words there. A statue can tell a lot of stories. I am saddened that we had people like Hitler and the millions of people he brought so much pain and heartache too. I've read Anne Franks Diary and it was so interesting to read. What a lovely young lady she was. So sad isn't it?

    Show All Categories