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Standing On A Cliff In Normandy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The wind wasbitter and I had left my rain jacket on the bus. Stingingneedles of cold slapped my face and wet my gray cardigan as weoverlooked the cliff jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. "And tothink," my French teacher called over the wind, the samesnapping cold we had in the States, "that this is only afraction of what the soldiers went through."

Standingat the cliff was like standing at the edge of the world,though I knew America lay across the ocean. Suicidal wavesdashed their heads against sharp orange rocks, foamy innardsbursting forth and up and back. The excited fascination ofcrawling through German bunkers and over rusted barbed wire,of recreating history, imagining the scenes of World War II'sD-Day, was gone now, replaced by a cold chill of realizationthat, even with the icy rain and whipping wind, I could neverfully realize any American or German soldier's terror on thatJune 6.

The image of those men, loaded down with greenhelmets, weapons and gear, climbing up those orange cliffswith the icy Atlantic spraying them, clawing at their limbs,with the rain beating down and the wind trying to wrench themoff, with German artillery slicing their skin and killingAmericans beside them ... and them still climbing, held ahundred different contradictions about the human race. Howcourageous were these men to surrender their lives to liberatetheir fellow humanity from Nazi tyranny. How disgusting wasmankind to fight against itself, kill members of its ownspecies with unnatural devices that sliced, exploded, tore andmelted. How noble were these men to obey orders, tovoluntarily kill and die, to climb flesh-tearing cliffs andsleep in muddy trenches. How horrendous for a country to forcethis responsibility on ordinary men, fathers and brothers andsons and uncles. How thankful was I for those soldiers who hadsaved the lives of the French and the Jews, dethroned Hitlerand his ideas of race superiority and how sorry was I thathuman life had to be sacrificed.

The willingness torisk or surrender one's life for another with an unknown face,or to stand defiantly in the face of death for ideals andpurposes intangible is a characteristic exclusive to humanity.

From Asia to America, monks set themselves on fire andpatriots choose death over tyranny. Men stand up for God andfor the right not to believe in God. Nations come to therescue of oppressed colonies and peacemakers starve themselvesfor their people's liberty. Martyrs and heroes, exalted andforgotten, found things greater than themselves to live anddie for.

Standing up there on the Normandy cliff,holding my gray cardigan tight as the wind whipped against me,I hoped that someday I would not only find the courage to riskmy life, but a purpose or person worthy of it.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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