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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I spent some time yesterday thinking about a single grain of sand. It might seem a little strange to some to take time which could be better spent, reflecting about something as insignificant as a grain of sand, but this wasn’t any ordinary sand.

The middle child came home Saturday night from her ten day trip to France You could tell she was tired, but very talkative as we sat around a supper of pancakes and heard about all the things she had seen and experienced there. I think it was to be expected when she talked about the food she ate and the cathedrals she had seen and not one of us was surprised when she talked about the most famous of the Paris touristy spots. She has a tendency though when talking to jump from one story to another to another without ever finishing the first one, so I got kind of blurry trying to figure out why the biscuits and gravy I ordered tasted so terrible and lost focus on what she was saying. She snapped me back into reality with one word; “Normandy”.

One day of her trip the group visited the D-Day museum and the beaches of Normandy, which for her history loving dad was like sitting across the table from Rick Steves but without all the weird references to PBS. She told about the museum and showed us pictures of nearly everything that was displayed there. In her own words, “I knew you would want to see it so I just took pictures of everything.” She was right. There were also pictures of her on the beaches; Juno, Omaha, Utah, and standing in and around the bomb craters that nearly eighty years later still litter the cliffs and land around the area. Of all the things that she talked about seeing those stuck with her the most. I suppose in a way it made history come alive to her in their own way.

Later at home as she was unpacking and telling us about her run in with security screening at the airport and handing out gifts brought from over the pond she handed me a book about D-Day and Normandy which ….well I’m a history nut and a prolific reader so she got me spot on. But it was that last gift that she lifted out of the suitcase, carefully wrapped in tissue paper that made me choke up just a little. In a small glass bottle with a large cork stopper was a handful of sand from Utah beach. Some might think it strange to bring sand back as a gift, but this wasn’t just any gift and it needed less explanation than the small stones from the Palace of Versailles that her older sister brought home a few years back.

I’ve spent two days looking at that sand. Thinking mostly about the cost of each of those grains in the jar. How many boots ran across it? How many time did gun powder mix into it? How many drops of sweat and tears and blood stained each of the grains only to be washed over and over by the waves over the last eight decades? Does that jar of sand still carry with it the fear, the courage, the pride of each man who stepped onto that beach, and how many of those young men never left the beach? If you think really hard about those grains of sand, even though they are insignificant really, they defined not only a period in history but much of what we as American’s value when we talk about the cost of freedom.

I may never make it there myself, may never walk the beaches, may never feel the same feel of the sand against my skin as life drifts from me, but for a moment I can understand that place and that little bottle of freedom will find a place amongst my most prized possession and serve as a constant reminder to me of the cost in a single grain of sand. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.