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When Police Won’t Let This Boy into the American Cemetery on D-Day, He Conducts His Own Amazing Memorial

Patriotism is not a part of our DNA — it must be learned. A healthy patriotism is rooted in a willingness to serve a cause larger than the self. It is demonstrated in the ability to sacrifice one’s own comforts, even one’s own needs for the greater good of others. This is at the heart and core of military service. Those who serve the nation, who lay their lives on the line for the defense of the nation, for the security of its people are the embodiment of healthy patriotism.

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In this film you will witness a young boy’s simple, yet dedicated gesture of patriotism in honor of those who fell at Normandy on D-Day. He is not allowed to offer this gesture of respect and honor in the cemetery, so he went down to the wide beach to stand his solitary vigil. He stands with a flag on a staff that is much larger than himself. The winds lift and whip the flag about, which makes it tough for this young boy to keep his stance. He faces out to sea, imagining the thousands of ships on the horizon and the men and equipment coming ashore from the various landing crafts. He stays there for hours, even as the tide is coming in. He is dressed in a mock WWII uniform.

This is a young boy’s idea. It has no sophistication in it. It is done with the simple honesty of youth. He cannot know what the veterans and the fallen he honors know, except in the fertile imagination of youth. But his gesture is full of dignity. His stance is not “professional” — his understanding of such things is not formed by experience. But it does not matter. Everyone who sees him, the tourists and the veterans alike that are there for the same purpose, understands his intentions. They begin to take pictures or him or of themselves standing near him. A veteran stands in front of him briefly and offers a respectful salute.

“We can only imagine the thoughts that went through this young man’s mind as he stood those long hours, feeling the pain in his limbs, wanting to give in to that pain…”

We can only imagine the thoughts that went through this young man’s mind as he stood those long hours, feeling the pain in his limbs, wanting to give in to that pain. But in his action we can see his dedication and his singular desire to honor the fallen in this simple, yet symbolically powerful gesture.

There is a bit of the melodramatic in the father’s narration and the music that is set to it, but this does not diminish this boy’s simple desire to honor men he could have never known. We can take away this simple idea: this young man has a good sense of what patriotism requires of us. Patriotism is not some kind of blind, nationalistic hoohah. It is a recognition that, in difficult times, we may out of necessity be called to serve the nation. In those times we must be willing to sacrifice our all in order to protect and defend the nation that has given us and our loved ones so much. This young man seems to have a fair understanding of that. Enjoy.

Criteo VET
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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.