Poem: Once By the Atlantic (D-Day, June 6, 1944)

D-Day (Photo--US Army)
(Photo–US Army)

In five years when the world leaders gather to commemorate the invasion again, there will likely be no survivors of the battle to salute at Omaha Beach. But we will remember.

Once by the Atlantic (D-Day, June 6, 1944)

The season. The tides. The weather.
A continent crying for help.
The stealth (they hoped), till the shining armada
stretched from the Isles
in the rain and then
moonlight on the waves.

Almost as predictable: the courage,
the losses, the foul-ups, the death.
Something men had never
done to land before.

Sights set on victory, they saw predicted,
unlucky cliffs of cannon.
Ready to roll to Paris and then Berlin,
they saw hedgerows. And fought on—
not home for Christmas;
the year stretched to spring.

Now calm and peaceful,
the sand smooth, the fog a comforter,
the mud and blood covered by grass and gratitude:
Names, names, names—
a marble armada of names,
and so many known but to God.
Yet He knows all their loss and all they gained;
they helped Him turn the light back on.
So many, so many, young, afraid, determined,
and at rest. The waves still crash
a symphony of peace for them, of warning for us.

—Lisa Bolin Hawkins

The Channel stopped you phot STF AFP-Getty Images
The message to the Nazis, chalked on the plane, says, “The Channel stopped you but not us.” (Photo: STF; AFP/Getty Images)

Apologies to Robert Frost and his poem, “Once By the Pacific.”

For more about the D-Day memorial in 2019, see Rachel Donadio’s excellent June 6, 2019, article in The Atlantic, “Nothing Prepares You for Visiting Omaha Beach,” https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/06/visiting-omaha-beach-d-day-75-anniversary/590788/

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