Just a bit of background on this. While in Europe, I visited several sites in the Normandy region of France where the D-Day invasion took place during World War II. One of these sites was Omaha Beach, a 5-mile stretch of coastline where elements of the 29th and 1st Infantry Divisions assaulted Nazi forces. My grandpa Smith was a member of the 1st Division, or Big Red One, and got his first combat experience at Omaha Beach on D-Day. If you're familiar with the film Saving Private Ryan, that first twenty minutes or so is a depiction of the fighting that took place at Omaha Beach, where Allied casualties were higher than at any of the other five sectors of coastline (code names: Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) attacked during the invasion.
When I visited Omaha Beach, it was early December and the place was all but deserted. I had a personal tour guide who showed me around the famous American cemetery, Pointe-du-Hoc, and a few other sites, but when we got down to the actual beach, he could see that I wanted some time alone, and left me to it. It was very strange, walking on this quiet, tranquil beach and thinking how different it was for grandpa and all the other guys like him when they were there. I wrote a poem from that context. It's called, "A Day at the Beach."