I can’t honestly call myself a student of history. Whether a terrible tragedy or horrifying government, my sometimes cynical mind assumes that such events will, and often have, been repeated, even after the next generations spend school days reading about these events in their history books. But there are a few chapters of history that, historically (sorry), have stirred my interest. Other people’s spoons can help to stir the interesting pot, too.
I remember writing an essay about Hitler in 7th grade English. Yes, THAT guy, whose mention repulses me every time uttered. But even as a 13-year old, I understood that the world has to understand itself at its worst if it can ever move on to become its best. Fast forward 12 years or so, and I found myself dating an engineer by day, but WWII history nerd by night. Once we married and became travel partners, it wasn’t long before a trip to experience the Normandy beaches nudged its way onto the trip short list.
So here we are, a very few short weeks before we will stand on those beaches, where eventual victory stormed onto the shores but at the tragic cost of so many young lives.
I’ve found it much easier to be a student of history when you can actually feel it, in some sense, beyond the black and white text of a book. So to hear the waves and wind, to see the remains of unprecedented war, to look out over a sea and imagine the fear the endless waves of approaching Allies must’ve caused, THAT will be the history lesson of history lessons. I can only hope to form the actual experience into coherent words to share in this space.