To commemorate this year’s 72nd anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings, I wanted to share a D-Day poem I wrote. I have shared it before on this blog, but it’s very much from my heart and is the best tribute I think I have to offer. After 72 years, of course the complement of veterans who return to the French coast on June 6 gets smaller every year; but there are still many who return to honour their experiences and their fallen comrades. This year and in years to come, let us remember with them and for them.
We Paid for the Beach in Blood
With hands clenched and eyes down
And stomachs sick from the sea,
We approached the beaches and soaring cliffs
Of concrete that made up Normandy.
We had to swim the last few yards,
And those ones were the longest;
Wading past bodies of those who fell,
We were the luckiest, not strongest.
Only machine-guns welcomed us–
Their zeal made every man shiver
But slowly we began to take the beach
A feat only sacrifice delivered.
Onwards, upwards; up to the cliffs
There was cover there, at least.
But the inheritance from our mates below
Was the grueling push to the east.
So many lives were taken that day
How many? I can’t remember,
Laid out on the altar of Normandy
On the rocks and in the scarlet water.
More plentiful than the dead was our bravery
Forget about love– courage is blind;
It considers not the peril of action
But acts with an iron-willed mind.
The beaches ours, we made it east
And opened the door to the final year,
But not without the will of the dead
Whose sacrifice made our path clear.
With strength of thousands and courage of heroes
We took the beach that day
Long, long ago but not so distant
The wounds don’t go away.
The numbers 6-6-44
Remain forever in my head;
Emblazoned like the shock I saw
On the faces of the dead.
It took us some time, and more than we thought
But we fought like an armoured flood;
For all our lives, we won’t forget
We paid for the beach in blood.