Before I get philosophical on your (the reader’s) ass, I would like to provide you with some background information. This is a picture that was taken of my brother Iain (far left), my good friend Aaron (left) and myself (far right). This was in Normandy, specifically at Pointe Du Hoc, a landing site on D-Day: June 6, 1944. Now, we all know what D-Day was (I hope), but Pointe Du Hoc was just a small part of the struggle between the Axis and Allied forces on that day.
Pointe Du Hoc was a German artillery fortification located on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. During D-Day, German forces were faced with a barrage of artillery from American and British naval units. After the bombardment, allied forces scaled the massive cliffs to take over the heavily fortified area.
Today, what was once ruin and death is an eerily beautiful reminder of what happened that day. The grass is lush and green, and creates a stark contrast between the blackened bunkers. If you read into the whole scene of Pointe du Hoc, it’s a one big contrast between life and death. For example: the grass and wild flowers run rampant, along the edges of the bunkers and in the fifteen foot deep craters created by artillery barrages. In that crater, dozens of lives could have been snuffed out, but today it is just a hole, filled with lush grass and the occasional tourist.
Even the picture above provides some interesting insight. I’m borrowing this concept from my writing professor Kevin Browne (I hope you’re reading this), but the bunker represents a wall, or an obstacle. The sky represents another world, or whatever is beyond this life. In that aspect, it seems peaceful and sort of vague. However, there is also a hole in the bunker, that leads into darkness and eventually out into the light. That represents a passing on that was full of darkness and turmoil, similar to how a soldier in combat might have passed on. For a grunt in a dark bunker, being blown up wasn’t the sort of “passed on peacefully into the blue sky” kind of death, it really was more of the ruined tunnel of darkness with a small gleaming of light at the end. For me, that’s some pretty deep stuff.
Now, my own concept has not so much to do with life and death, but with the importance of life and historical events on this earth. the bunker in the picture is so large that it dwarfs us small human beings. That bunker represents a major point in history, as WWII surely directed the course of history. It’s huge, and it is large and important in the scope of the big picture: world history. Where as myself, my friend, and my brother are small, we’re young. We have yet to make a mark on this earth, which is to say if we make any at all. At this point in out lives, we mean little in the grand scheme of things, just like we are small in the picture.
A nice thought I had about this though: a stranger would say “wow look at that bunker! That must’ve been cool!” My parents or my friends might say “Hey, that’s a cool picture! You guys look like you enjoyed yourself, Iain is cheesing hard!” I guess you could say that to those close to us, we’ve made a bigger impact on their lives than any old bunker could have. That makes me feel special, especially after writing about “all we are is dust in the wind.”