THE PARENT FILES: Omaha Beach
Driving from Caen to Omaha Beach I told my son that he was a man.
I cannot be sure why it happened then and there, but it did. As we drove north to the Normandy Coast, I turned to him and said “son, I want you to know you are a man.”
In my family, in our tradition, since the beginning, no boy has become a man without his father’s consent.
It is one of those weird, ancient things that no one really understands, but has lasting power anyway.
So as I drove down that gloomy French road, I turned to him and said “son, you are a man; as of this moment.”
“Cool,” he said, not understanding at all.
We drove north and turned left, turned west, driving past Gold Beach – thick with British tourists – down, down to Omaha beach, virtually deserted.
I walked out into the lazy, gentle surf, up to my chest, and turned looking inland, imagining myself an 18 year old American, running through the surf with two choices: either die there or die 20 meters forward, up the beach. No other choice, but a clear one.
And there, ahead on the dry sand, looking at me as if I were insane, my son stood watching.
All that matters is that I was there, with him, then and there. Nothing else matters.