From the Rector
Over recent weeks our nation, and indeed much of Western Europe, has quite rightly been focussed on the 75th anniversary commemorations for D Day.
It was undeniably one of the single most dramatic but significant events of the 20th century. The planning that went into the preparation and the bravery and skill that went into the execution of Operation Overlord are staggering. This operation changed the shape of European history.
I find it telling that our French neighbours seldom speak of ‘an invasion’, rather of ‘La Libération’, making quite clear how important those days were for them.
It is surely impossible not to have been deeply moved by the spoken memories of those veterans who were involved in D Day and by the photos of the ones who actually made it to Normandy for the ceremonies.
I only knew one D Day hero personally. Leslie was, as most are, reticent about this role, but also intensely proud that he was there and of his membership of the Dorset Regiment. He always wore his regimental tie on 6th June and 11th November.
We have been to Utah Beach on numerous occasions. On a summer’s afternoon, it is a beautiful place. When the tide is out there is a vast expanse of glorious sand, children dig for cockles, bird watchers scan the shore for waders, gulls and geese, trotters clip clop along the harder sand.
It is a shattering contrast with what the same view must have been like at dawn on 6th June 1944. Last spring we visited the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, above Omaha Beach. The enormity of it made me weep.
It is an undeniable irony that such brutality and human cruelty should be the catalyst for everything that is noble and admirable about the human spirit.
It is impossible to be unmoved by the stories of valour, sacrifice, compassion and fellowship that emerged from those desperate but ultimately successful days.
As we move on we can only pray that humanity does indeed learn the lessons of the past and resolve to build the world of freedom and respect that they fought for and that God wills for all his people.