During the Covid-19 pandemic when our mobility is suddenly limited, I think about the enviable mobility of the birds around us. Here in Florida, we often see brown pelicans soaring through the sky and flying low across the Gulf of Mexico. For birds, mobility equals escape from danger, or the slightest perception of danger. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fly away from the virus that threatens our health right now?
Pelicans are fun to watch. They fly in V-shaped formations with numbers ranging from 3 to 20 or more. They are silent, and they never bother people, given us the impression that they are gentle creatures.
When they forage for fish, they fly close to the surface of the water and then make a steep climb and nosedive to stun the fish with their beaks. Then, they scoop up the fish and a gallon or more of water with their stretchy pouch. Keep watching to see them tip up the beak and swallow the fish whole.
More than nine thousand service men are buried and memorialized here at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France. It is sobering to see the lines of crosses that mark each life lost in a courageous effort to defend freedom.
From the Normandy American Military Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France, I share with you two maps displayed on the walls showing the Allied Landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day and the Allied Invasion of Europe that continued until 1945. Most all of us are too young to remember those days, but we should never forget the “Greatest Generation” who liberated Europe, defeated Hitler and restored freedom to the Western World.
I shot these photographs of the wall maps at the Normandy American Cemetery shortly after the 60th anniversary of D-Day in June 2004.
This second wall map shows the movement of Allied forces through Europe from 1944 to 1945. If you want to read a tremendous book about this story, pick up Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day.
*Reference to Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation.
After I captured this image of an ibis taking flight from the beach, I began to wonder what it would be like to take flight to the sky at a moment’s notice. Only birds can do this, but what a gift! I think the closest I can come to that feeling is to glide through the water while swimming. As I glide weightless with the water rippling through my hair and the cool water skimming over my body, I feel that magic combination of freedom and relaxation. I wonder, why don’t I swim more often?