Monday, May 13, 2013

Robert L. Glos: At Rest in France

     The Greatest Generation continues to teach us about duty and sacrifice.  On a recent visit to France, my husband and I made a priority of visiting the grave of his mother's cousin, Robert L. Glos, who is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, Moselle, France.  The literature says:  "It covers 113.5 acres and contains 10,849 graves, the largest of any American World War II cemetery in Europe."  Robert was aboard a bomber that was shot down on October 11, 1944.  
     We spent the night nearby, and dressed up for the occasion on a beautiful spring morning.  After buying some flowers, we arrived for our visit.  The French lady on duty that morning wasn't aware we were coming, but made our time special with grace and respect.  First, we were escorted personally to the grave site.  While we walked, she gave us a bit of general information about the location.  I asked whether the number of people visiting is dwindling.  She said no, that in fact the number of school-age children coming on field trips and being taught to remember is replacing the older visitors.  
     When we arrived, she placed an American flag in the ground.  Then, from the little pail she was carrying, she took sand that she rubbed into the name and information carved on the headstone, so it would stand out for a photo.  Incredibly, the sand is from Omaha Beach, in Normandy, hundreds of miles away.
     Since this wasn't about me, I wandered away at that point and left my husband alone with his thoughts at the grave.  He later told me he had no idea how much being there would affect him.  Here was a young man who had died several years before my husband was born.  But standing here, among the graves of the many who had given their lives, was an incredibly powerful and moving experience.
     I had brought photos of Bobby with me,  and took some images with them placed on the headstone.  The last image I took, I added a picture of my husband's father, who was Bobby's best friend.  He had also served in Europe.  The day of our visit, in far-off France, they were together again.
     Before we  left, we were presented with the flag, and a nice folder with various pages of information, including details of Bobby's exact position in the cemetery, visitor pamphlets, and how to possibly obtain more information.
     I understand that the decision to leave Bobby buried in France was very painful for the family.  But on this peaceful day, seeing him among his comrades, it seems just right.