miércoles, 2 de mayo de 2012


The Pacific is based on two memoirs of U.S. Marines: With the Old Breed, At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge; and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. The miniseries tells the stories of the two authors and Marine John Basilone, as the war against the Empire of Japan rages. After having read the two books, I visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France, located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S First Army on June 8, the first American graveyard on European soil in World War II. It was my way to pay a respectful tribute to those who fought against Hitler. I got a strange sensation; after all I could only see a caravan of graves and tombstones of so many young soldiers. On one hand I was grateful, on the other I felt gloomy. Through my mind crossed the images of dead soldiers lying on Omaha Beach. The Allied commander knew Omaha would be the hardest beach on D- day. Its gentle curve and imposing bluffs made it a natural killing ground. The assault on Omaha succeeded is due partly to shelling from nearby destroyers, but mostly to the courage and determination on the infantry. It was a very high price to pay, but as a great man put it; “ it will be necessary to accept one’s responsibility, and to be willing to make sacrifices for one’s country is good enough to live in it, its good enough to fight for”. I don’t expect my countrymen to understand these words but unless they could learn many things from the sacrifice these soldiers made for all of us.

 Suddenly I remembered the account of Bill Millin, bagpiper for the 1st Special Brigade of the British Army, who had to march out of the surf onto sword Beach under rifle and mortar fire playing “Highland Laddie”. I know that war is brutish, inglorious and a terrible waste. Combat leaves and indelible mark on those who are forced to endure it. The only redeeming factors are the incredible bravery and their devotion to each other. The spirit de Corps that sustained every soldier engaged in combat. But the memory of those soldiers, especially of those who did not survive, made my visit to that Cemetery a unique experience. I noticed the memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing large maps and narrative of the military operations; at the center is the bronze statue, “Spirit of American Youth”. I decided to take a walk among the graves of 9387 or the military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D- Day landings and ensuing operations. I guess that not all of them were heroes, but they served in units of heroes. That was enough for me. I thought about it when the wind came suddenly snaking off the place. The sun was already beginning to slip down in a great, wintry, golden-red ball which shorts arrows of fire and blood-red streaks across the field. Suddenly conscious of the cold and of the gathering dusk of the November afternoon. It was time to leave, as I turned away, I glanced once again around the cemetery. It was glorious.

 Sergio Calle Llorens

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