Tonight is the night that most of our young men won’t go to sleep.
The ones who are already queuing for the airplanes that will carry them into war certainly won’t sleep for a day or more. Or they will sleep forever.
The ones who wait for their ships to sail before sunrise won’t sleep either, anxious for the mission that lies ahead. Those who are already on their ships and were called to wait haven’t slept for days.
From this vantage point in France, in only an hour and a half, we’ll mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the 6th Division of British airborne troops, the Red Berets [http://www.memorial-pegasus.org/mmp/division_aeroportee/index.php?lang=uk], whose mission it was to drop near the bridges over the Orne at Ranville, and the Caen canal at Benouville, and secure those bridges without harming them. They would arrive in Horsa and Hamilcar gliders, led by Major General Richard Gale.
They succeeded in their mission, securing what we now call the Pegasus Bridge [http://instagram.com/p/o4EYePTWGK/] and ensuring Allied vehicles had a point to cross the canal.
So many would die in this mission, as part of the heavy price we paid on all sides for liberation from a terrible scheme.
Today we spent in Bayeux, a town preserved as though in amber, with its majestic cathedral [http://instagram.com/p/o4FAxSzWHi/] intact, spared from the heaviest blows either side could muster. Walking its charming streets was like stepping back in time.
Tonight, I go to sleep in Le Havre, which suffered devastating bombardment months after D-Day, as the port city was laid waste. It has risen from those ashes to bathe in the coastal light and carry on. Its cathedral [http://instagram.com/p/o4Fb20zWIQ/] is a modernist monument to this rebirth.
When we wake tomorrow, we’re sure to find a similar fierce light of dawn.
from June 5, 2014