Wednesday, November 11, 2009


On a chilly November 11th, red flowers on lapels bring my mind back to a sunny August evening in Normandy, when I stood on a low hill carpeted with golden fields and striped with lush green hedgerows. On that summit stands a circle of stones, each pointing a to each nearby town or village, and naming it. Besides the name, a number has also been engraved into each stone; the price, in lives, paid for each village. Even the single-digit numbers seem terribly big.

Nearby, I walked a perfectly manicured lawn, reviewing neat ranks of very clean tombstones. Each has a name and an age, and usually a simple but heartbreaking message from a spouse or parent. The men beneath the stones are all very young.

These places are old now; but somewhere, new holes are being dug and a mason cuts new stones. Here is hoping that in some years, he will need to find other work.