At the weekend I was in Normandy, and visited the American Battle Monuments Commission memorial and cemetery at Omaha beach.
I have been to the D-Day beaches several times, but this was my first time at the visitor centre, which opened in June.
If you are ever in Normandy, I recommend a visit.
The Allied invasion of occupied Europe in 1944 is, of course, hugely emotive, and it would be easy to over play to cards of sentimentality or patriotism. I was impressed by the way the centre did neither.
But what really struck me were the three themes they have running through the small exhibition in the centre: Sacrifice, Courage, Competence.
It seems an almost tragically comic word to place alongside the other two, but reading the displays, watching the films and listening to the recordings of veterans’ voices, it became clear that competence was a vital part of the success of the Normandy landings.
The front line troops, the engineers, the medics, the air crews and the others who supported them – from planners to meteorologists – all had to know their job and to do it well.
I am not trying to equate any work I have done with competencies with what those brave men and women did on 6th June 1944, but the choice of that word in that context has made me realize something. Competence is not something to be self-effacing about. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.