A few weeks ago I went on a trip provided by IES to see the Normandy beaches and the memorial for the American soldiers who were killed fighting German occupation in France. While in Caen, the capital of the Basse-Normandie region, I was able to visit a historical museum that gave an extremely detailed account of the Second World War and see the memorial given to France by the United Stated which honors the American soldiers who sacrificed thier lives for thier country on D-Day.
While at the museum, all of the things I had learned about the Second World War in middle and high school became uncomfortably real. The facts, figures, and pictures detailed everything from the German occupation of Paris, to the extrajudicial killings that took place all over Europe at the hands of soldiers following the Nazi Regime. I learned so many things about the influence of political ideologies and how they can make people forget who they really are and what they truly believe in. During this time, I also had the chance to see the Normandy beaches. I never imagined being able to stand in the same place where so many lives were lost and where one of the most important chapters of history was written. I reminded myself that 'loving' history means coming to terms with the grandeur of the mistakes those in the past have made before us, and the need to promise ourselves we'll never make them again.
On a much much lighter note, on the last day of this trip I got to see the Tapistry of Bayeux, which is over 1,000 years old! At its essence, the tapistry is an incredibly long story concerning the conquest of England by French and Breton soldiers. I loved the fact that I could see the same themes of jealousy, dishonor, and love play out in no different manners as they do today. As I've stated before, I love stories so of course listening to the audioguide that accompanied the tapistry quickly sent me into a magical world of knights, swords, and other medieval happenings.