Saturday, June 6, 2009

Visiting Normandy...

Since today is the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, I thought I'd write a post about visiting there.  Especially if you are (or one day find yourself) stationed in Germany, it is a must see.  It's just over 300 miles from Paris, so a pretty easy drive, and of coarse, very beautiful.

We took a day trip there from Paris- and just to let you know, the pictures below are not mine, we took video of our trip, which I love, but I doubt you'd want to watch a few hours of it- other people's pics are much better suited for a blog post! 

Caution- the drive from Germany, via Paris, has LOTS of tolls.

We visited on December 26th, so it was cold, rainy and very overcast.  It seemed strange to be at the beach in the dead of Winter.  Even though so much time has passed, its amazing to see how much has not changed. 

This is Pointe du Hoc, the craters in the ground were caused by the more than ten kilotons of high explosives that landed here (that's about the same explosive power as the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima).  

At the end of the war, many of the German Atlantic Wall defenses were dismantled, but some remain, like the bunker above and the battery at Longues-sur-Mer. 

In 2004, the French commissioned this sculpture, entitled "The Brave" by French sculptress Anilore Banon.  It is a tribute to the Americans who landed on Omaha Beach, and the sculpture rises from the waves at St. Laurent-sur-Mer.  

 Standing atop Arromanches, you can still see the remnants of "Mulberry B", one of two artificial harbors created for the invasion.  It took 20,000 workers almost a year to build using over two million tons of steel and concrete.  More than 500,000 tons of equipment were unloaded using the artificial harbor here during the summer of 1944. 

The  American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer:    

At the center of the cemetery is a bronze statue, "The Spirit of American Youth Rising From The Waves", and on either side are two enormous maps of the European Theatre of Operations.   


The cemetery itself is 172 acres, French soil which has been granted in perpetuity to the United States.  9,386 brave American souls are at rest here.  The grass is brilliantly green, the silence deafening, the rows upon rows of perfectly aligned white crosses, which, even if you have seen it before in pictures, will absolutely take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes when you see it in person.  

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