Saturday, March 16, 2013

D-Day Remembered

Today was our full day visiting the D-Day sights on the channel coast in Normandy. We left the ship at 8 a.m on a bus. The weather was no better than it has been all week. Wet, cold, and extremely windy. But on with the show! Our program director, Isabelle, is so knowledgeable and a delightful young woman. Not so young as she has recently become a grandmere! But she looks very young. She is our guide for many sights but for some of the city tours and this special one today, we have had special guides who are filled with information but able to parse it out in doses that can be absorbed easily. Today, the guide was a woman named Claire.

Our first stop was at an area that still has the pillboxes that the German gunners holed up in, shooting at the Allied forces who were landing. Some of the remains of the huge guns they used are still there. We walked over a wet, marshy field to reach these areas, slipping and sliding in mud and snow. Yes, snow which is seldom seen in these parts. Lucky us! We experienced it 3 days this week!

Then it was on to Arromanches near the Gold Beach where the British landed on June 6, 1944. Ken and I still observe the day by proudly flying our flag at home. Sadly, many young people in our country have no idea what D-Day means nor its major signifigance. The French people still hail it as one of the greatest days ever!

The American Military Cemetery came next. Walking though the well-kept, perfectly manicured grounds brought silence to our group. Over 9,300 servicemen and 4 women are buried there. We participated in a short ceremony. The group faced a wildly whipping American flag, hands over our hearts, as the national anthem was played followed by volleys and Taps. It brought a lump to my throat and tears trickled down my cheeks. I'm seriously patriotic and these things get me every time. Ken and I walked to the beach and looked out on the quiet waters trying to imagine what it was like that day so many years ago. The guide told us of one visitor who had been master of one of the landing barges. He said it held 32 men and 31 were seasick. They all landed covered in vomit. And yet, they landed and moved on to do the job they were sent for.

Two more stops at Omaha Beach concluded our day. So many memories, so much meaning. Somehow, the cold, wind and occasional rain faded away with all that we'd seen

Tomorrow, we explore this coastal town of Honfleur.


  1. Nancy, we spent a few days visiting the D-Day beaches with our kids in 2009, and it impressed us all immensely. I kind of lost it at the American cemetery but I guess at some point the solemnity of the place had to get to me. We were lucky though in that we had great weather, almost a bit too hot.

  2. I don't know how anyone could visit this area and not be touched by it in some way.