So many words to say, yet none of them are good enough.
Ever heard the saying one death is a tragedy, but many deaths is a statistic? Ashamedly, I have to say that this had always been true for me. However, October 27th marks the day that my eyes were opened and everything changed.
After a day like this, there was no longer a way to turn a blind eye to the pain that was felt on that day, distance myself from it because I wasn't alive to see it, or depersonalize it by remembering the event as a series of statistics you have to learn in class.
Oh how I wish I hadn't done that for so long.
On this day, I literally walked in both of my great grandfather's footsteps. With every footstep I left in that sand, I thought about their experiences as they left their prints. After making it past the slow motion state of trying to move through the scarlet stained water, with no place to turn they began to try to cross the beach. Their goal was not to be a hero, but to advance just one foot further than the man in front of them. They sacrificed their lives for just that one extra step, so that the man behind them could get just one step further.
In the shadows of one of those beaches, lies acres where many of them are now laid to rest. When I went, thousands of white headstones were in rows further than the eye can see. The whole scene in its entirety was enough to move someone and be overwhelming.
However, we went deeper. Thanks to some great advice to individualize the experience, everyone I was with and I went to the cemetery with a specific name and gravestone in mind. We took time to research this person and get to know them. William Wise Jr. shared my last name. He fought along side my great grandfathers. He was only 22 years of age; not much older than me and many of my male friends. He had dreams and a family. Yet, he sacrificed it all to defeat evil. I knelt by a grave of a boy who had to become a man. I laid a flower at the base of a cross that his mother was probably never able to visit. I prayed at a grave that no one probably sought out. William Wise Jr., I'll never forget you.
Dedicated to: William Wise Jr., Gerald Wise, Richard Hopkins, all of individuals who fought, and all of men and women who knew one who did.
To all those who say no to evil, I THANK YOU!