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A Visit To Omaha Beach


The American military cemetery in Normandy, picture taken in the summer of 2003 by Bjarki Sigursveinsson, via Wikipedia

Twenty years ago, in September, our pilgrim group of three drove 175 miles out of the city of Paris into Normandy country, to visit Omaha Beach, the D-Day invasion site of June 6, 1944. On coming into view of the American Cemetery, my friends stopped and could not speak for a long time.

Words cannot describe the row upon row of white stone crosses, stretching endlessly into the horizon, some 10,000 of them. On D-Day, these men faced withering fire from enemy machine guns placed on the bluff overlooking the shore. All young men, in the prime of their life, but called to duty, with all its dangers, superseded all other matters. The crosses represent only a small number of the members of the Armed Forces killed in the opening days of the greatest military invasion of all time.

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, a day to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and to draw inspiration for life from our military dead. By their example, these fallen heroes remind us of the quality of courage and honor resting in the hearts of each one of us. The dead buried at Omaha Beach, were the young people living down the block from us, just ordinary boys. I was ordained a priest on May 6, 1944, exactly one month before this carnage took place. If I had not been in the Seminary, I could well be lying beneath one of the white crosses.

Instead, God has given me a long life with joys and sorrows found in every human existence. I give thanks for the opportunity to taste life from youth to old age, for the chance to know God better in all the happenings of life. For these men, lying there in the silence and quiet at Omaha Beach, life was just opening up for them like a fresh flower in the spring time. A cruel death cut short their dreams and hopes for the future.

In our mind’s eye, as we contemplate the all the lives of those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we would do well to ask ourselves, “What will I do with my life?” God has given us many days to live. We can pass these days in a selfish, complaining manner, preoccupied with the material things in life. On the other hand, we can seize each day as a precious gift and work for God’s Honor and Glory!

Inspired by our fallen heroes, we can purify our minds and hearts of selfish attitudes, know that the greatest victory is the victory over the evil within us. In our innermost hearts, we possess courage not only to rush enemy machine guns, but more importantly to drive out addictions to evil in its many forms.

Seeing the American cemeteries in France in 1997 affected my life deeply. Call it a rich bonus I didn’t foresee from my visit to France. To this day I cannot tolerate a haphazard attitude towards life, allowing carelessness about God’s Honor to take over my days.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

May 29, 2017 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Thank you father George for another wonderful article. I’ve always wanted to go to Normandy. It truly would be an inspirational experience. Happy Memorial Day and love to you

    Kathy kearney graham

    Comment by Kathy graham | May 29, 2017 | Reply

  2. Father George – you hit one out of the ball park, with this touching & inspiring message. So good of you to continue on, teaching us these important life lessons, in your advanced age with many health & well being issues of your own. Thank you, thank you. Your goodness is the best life lesson, I’ve ever encountered. God bless you, from your distant, twice removed cousin. Toody (one of the twins from the O’Malley clan). ☘️

    Comment by Toody Parker | May 29, 2017 | Reply

  3. Well said, many widows and orphans were created that historical day. We cannot ever forget.

    Comment by Matt Marich | May 29, 2017 | Reply

  4. Thank you Fr. George for this Memoriał Day tribute to all who sacrficed everything, for the wounded and all military families. I met a veteran 52 years to the day of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge…I never forget his emotion as he shared his memories of the horror they endured.
    God Bless You! He called you to serve His sheep…and you so beautifully guide us Home to Him. Blessings, Love & Gratitude, marianne

    Comment by mcs | May 29, 2017 | Reply


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