A Moment of Awe

This weekend we went to the races. It's a drive a bit more than an hour to another world, still in Belgium. Spa. You may have heard of it? French-speaking, in the hilly region from where fresh water comes. Anyway, back to the races. We went to the races.
I have written about the races before. I love the Spa track as you can walk for ages and seem to never find the end, curving through forests, going down another hill, then climbing back up for another view of more trees set against another hill. And in between you see glimpses of the track. In some places you can even see the cars race by and then catch a glimpse of them 20 seconds later way off in the distance on another hill. Or, even better, you hear the cars. Their scream as they zip by you, barely allowing you to focus on their color as they go past in a foggy blur, the sound of their power pulsing through you. It definitely pulses, you can feel the blast of those cars engines in your heart, in your ears...and I absolutely love it!

It sort of feels like my own personal high. Like my drug of choice. I don't need it all the time to get by in life, but in those moments I am afforded it, I am in bliss. I sincerely am in awe of the cars, their engines and design. The tires so smooth and black. The way they speed across the track. Watching the mechanics and technicians working at an unbelievable pace to get a car back on that pathway to winning. It really is an amazing experience. (Unlike Nascar which did not even slightly light my fire).

After the races, we set the GPS to home, but took the short route through the hills and over the river, through little villages and past the blooming fruit trees. It was a pretty drive, a bit foggy, a few showers, but all looking so unlike home, which is an adventure in itself. As we drove down one road towards our destination, I took a picture and then realized what I was photographing. A sign with 4 stars naming the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery.
I have been to numerous American cemeteries in Belgium and the Netherlands. Each time I go, I am filled with disbelief and a sense of stillness. We stopped the car and though visiting hours for the reception were closed we could enter the cemetery itself through an open gate. We did.

The blue skies opened up and I was again in disbelief. Covering the cleanly manicured lawn of grass were thousands of marble crosses, creating a pattern over the vast ground. In the middle was an angel hanging in the blue sky, welcoming you to this valued place. This place where thousands (7,989) of American soldiers were buried after dying in a war. After a first glance, my throat closed and the stillness of the air surrounding me became my focus. My eyes misted over as I realized that this place in which I stood was more than just a memorial. This place housed the stories of all these men who were never able to return home in the welcome arms of loved ones. This place brought countries together in a world torn apart. This place showed courage and rage and forgiveness and insanity. It showed how much America was a place to be looked up to, the power with which to be reasoned, offering men, American men, to help achieve a victory and bring the world back to a sense of calm.
As I watched my two boys run down the rows of crosses, with a few Jewish stars changing the perfection of line across the grass, I felt a great sense of patriotism. It was these men who fought in a war to allow my children the freedom to run through grass, now on European soil. It was these men who gave their lives to allow my children to feel safe, for their needs to be fulfilled, as well as their wants. As I watched my children run across the grass, I knew that at this moment in time, they had no idea what they were running amongst. They will one day, hopefully, as they take their own children to such a place, a graveyard, a cemetery, and tell them to please be quiet as this is a place to honor great men who fought in a war. Men who gave their lives, for any number of reasons and most probably without realizigin what the outcome would be, but still courageous and giving heroes...and me in a moment of awe and disbelief and amazement...of which those race cars in Spa stand not even a second close.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

I got chills reading your tribute to the soldiers in the cemetery. Very beautiful, as are the photos.

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

When we lived in Belgium, my son was one of a group of about 10 boys who handwashed all those grave markers in a single day in preparation for Memorial Day.