Chris’ note: Markets are closed today in observance of Memorial Day. So instead of our usual fare of contrarian investment ideas, you’ll hear from our friend and master trader Jeff Clark.
A while back, he visited the American Cemetery in Normandy. It’s where the French buried the thousands of young Americans who died storming the area’s beaches during World War II.
And Jeff wrote this short note to his readers when he returned…
The American Cemetery in Normandy, France, displays 9,386 gravestones of American soldiers who perished on June 6, 1944 – aka D-Day.
My family visited this cemetery several years ago.
My older son was studying World War II in his junior-high history class.
We had planned a vacation to France for the summer. And it seemed that, besides the typical touristy things, we might get some educational benefit by taking a detour to Normandy.
I had no idea…
Our tour guide had lived in Normandy his entire life. His parents and his grandparents were residents of Normandy. He knew the history. He was the perfect person to show us his neighborhood.
We walked along Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. All the while, our tour guide explained the events of June 6, 1944. He choked back tears as he described the day Americans invaded the region to free it from Nazi control.
We visited a church in Normandy, too. Its blood-stained pews had been preserved to remind visitors of the sacrifices the American military made.
As my family walked along some backroads, a few of the local elderly residents approached us. Our tour guide explained we were American tourists visiting the D-Day memorials. The residents shook our hands and nodded, saying, “Merci. Merci. Merci.”
Then we visited the American Cemetery.
It’s on the hillside, overlooking the ocean. It would be an ideal location for a luxury resort or a high-priced, exclusive community. But the French set it aside as a place to honor the fallen American soldiers.
As you stand at the entrance of the cemetery, you see a field of green grass interrupted by 9,386 stark white grave markers. In the distance, the blue waves of the ocean lighten the image.
We were the only foreigners visiting the American Cemetery that day. But there were many people walking by the gravesites and stopping occasionally to say a silent prayer. Our tour guide explained that these were the locals. “They come by every day,” he said, “just to say thanks.”
My sons walked among the gravestones. They did the math. “Dad,” my younger son said, “this guy was only 18 years old.”
He could have said that several thousand times.
Seventy-eight years ago, more than 9,300 Americans gave up their lives to defend freedom.
The residents of Normandy still shake the hands of American tourists who visit. And they still stand by the gravesites and say, “Merci.”
Editor, Market Minute