At least the dead will always be there.
All too many have been, for 76 years since that fateful June 6 on France’s Normandy beaches, when allied troops in 1944 turned the course of World War II and went on to defeat fascism in Europe in one of the most remarkable feats in military history.
Forgotten they will never be. Revered, yes. But today’s anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever, as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping almost everyone away — from government leaders to aging veterans who might not get another chance for a final farewell to their fallen comrades.
Rain and wind are also forecast, after weeks of warm, sunny weather.
“I miss the others,” said Charles Shay, who as a U.S. Army medic was in the first wave of soldiers to wade ashore at Omaha Beach under relentless fire on D-Day.
Shay, 95, lives in France close to the beach where he and so many others landed in 1944. He knows of no U.S. veterans making the trip overseas to observe D-Day this year.
“I guess I will be alone here this year,” Shay said before he performed an American Indian ritual to honor his comrades by spreading the smoke of burning white sage into the winds lashing the Normandy coast Friday.
The eerie atmosphere touches the French as well as Americans.