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Normandy Locals Honor Fallen American Veterans With Sand In Powerful Video

No matter how long ago a significant period in history was, it can have ripples that both affect how the world is shaped and how its people live after it passes.

Over the course of six years, the scope, destruction, and cultural impact of World War II changed the world forever. And although it left permanent scars on millions of families, the sacrifices of those who fought in it prevented it from showing even more disturbing consequences for the world we live in today.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the French region of Normandy, where a haunting annual ritual to pay respects to veterans who lost their lives there can be seen in the full video.

As the video begins, someone can be seen carefully rubbing sand over the name of a fallen American soldier displayed on his grave.

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As NPR reported, this sand is taken from Omaha Beach, where American troops landed on D-Day, and then moistened with a wet sponge.

As we can see here, this grave was made in honor of William A. Richards of Michigan, who died on D-Day itself.

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What we see in this photo, however, is only the first step of this ritual as the employees of the American Battle Monuments Commission that oversee this cemetery have no intention of leaving it dirty.

The person filling in the letters on this grave with sand can then be seen cleaning the area around it to ensure the letters stand out.

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According to NPR, this has the specific effect of making the soldier's name visible in the white marble Latin cross it's engraved in from up to 20 feet away.

And if you've noticed that some parts of this inscription were more visible than others, so did the person caring for this grave.

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As the video goes on, we can see them filling in the bottom row and the W in "William" with more sand before cleaning those areas as before.

Here, we can see what a grave looks like when this tribute is finished as Richard's information stands out as cleanly and clearly as can be possible through sand.

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Although they're slightly out of frame, the placement of the French and American flags is important to the American Battle Monuments Commission as well.

The American flag is symbolically placed at the soldier's right hand so it can be closer to Omaha Beach, while the French flag is placed at the left so it can be closer inland.

You can witness the whole ritual and the quiet respect paid to Richards and soldiers like him in the video here.

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