D-Day and the Dalai Lama – Bonus Blog Entry

This was a very special weekend in France. We were graced with royalty … the real kind (Prince Charles), the spiritual kind (the Dalai Lama) and the political kind (Obama). I had the extremely good fortune to go to Normandy for the D-Day commemorative ceremony held at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer.

Obama and Prince Charles arrive at the American Cemetery in Normandy

Obama and Prince Charles arrive at the American Cemetery in Normandy

Anyone who has been to this place knows that the cemetery is one of those places on earth that has a really strong energy, a powerful, tangible sense of history. Other places I’ve experienced this feeling was at the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany and the abandoned town of Oradour-sur-Glane in France.

But this weekend’s ceremony was a very positive, uplifting and emotional event. The weather was unexpectedly beautiful and other than one of the color guards fainting right before Obama arrived, the event went off without a hitch. In attendance were U.S. President and First Lady Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife model/singer Carla Bruni, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, Prince Charles and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who might be the most boring looking and sounding politician around). Tom Hanks, Bob and Elizabeth Dole and various other personalities were also in attendance.

I took an early morning train from Paris to Caen and then a police-escorted press bus (the motorcycle escort didn’t crash this time!) to the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, a small town along the coast that incorporates Omaha Beach. Spent the whole day there, listening to and observing veterans, taking photos, talking to young servicemen and women and feeling pretty damn good. I was surprised how comforting it was to see American soldiers in charge of things at the cemetery … from logistics to food. Things worked.

Obama gave an excellent speech but maybe the most memorable moment came when Gordon Brown accidentally said “Obama Beach” instead of Omaha Beach. The crowd had a good laugh.

The Boys sharing a laugh

The Boys sharing a laugh

And one more thing … I can’t tell you how nice it felt to NOT be British. I was sitting there looking at Prince Charles and Gordon Brown with Obama sitting next to them and couldn’t help but feel kind of proud. It’s silly but when you’ve had to see Bush next to these other world leaders for the last 8 years you notice how different things are now. And how as an American you don’t have to be embarrassed on the international stage anymore.

To see some images from the D-Day ceremony, CLICK HERE

To see a short video clip of President Obama speaking at the ceremony, CLICK HERE.

Before leaving France, Obama and his family got a private tour of Notre Dame and a few other spots in Paris. Not bad. But here’s what the security looked like:

Snipers on Notre Dame

Snipers on Notre Dame

To top the weekend off, the Dalai Lama (or Sa Saintete as he’s called in French) came to Paris to hold a conference. He does this from time to time. There are an enormous amount of Buddhists in France and he has a big following here. He also received honorary citizenship from the Mayor of Paris, which evidently pissed off the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama

If you’d like to see a few more images of the Dalai Lama, CLICK HERE.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Second Baseman on June 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for these, David….I was inspired by photos….Brought back fond memories when we were there….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: