Thinking About Bravery

Liza Donnelly
3 min readJun 7, 2024

And freedom

I’ve been fortunate to travel to Normandy, France, twice, both times for different events at the Caen Memorial Museum. The first was for a gathering of international cartoonists to discuss freedom of speech, and the other time was for an exhibit that I was connected to about Norman Rockwell. It’s a powerful museum, I recommend going.

The first time I visited, the director took us to see the rows of graves of American service men and women, and then he drove us to the beaches where the D-Day landings happened. Both times, my body reacted viscerally. On the beach, I could feel the men’s fear, horror and bravery. 10,000 died. I looked out into the ocean and tried to imagine their thoughts as they approached the beach, knowing that in all likelihood they would die. When I first saw the rows of graves, I had trouble holding back tears. Reading about D-Day anniversay today, and listening to some of President Biden’s speech, those feelings returned. I can see the beach and feel it again, my stomach in knots.

Who were those men? It’s amazing to me how brave they were, I just don’t know if I can fully understand it. They did it because the believed in freedom, in democracy, and knew that those principles were under attack: they helped save Europe from Hitler’s tyranny.