Part 2, a day in Normandy…Profoundly moving experience…

The grounds at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial are meticulously maintained and a treasure to behold.

As we continue with the photos on Part 2 of our tour of Normandy, France, which was five days ago, the memories of that special day still flow freely through our minds. 

Omaha Beach.
Omaha Beach.

Without a doubt, the experience which I’d anticipated would not be of much interest to me other than deep compassion for the brave soldiers that died for our freedom, proved to be an experience we’ll both always remember. 

This view toward the land from the beach, that the soldiers had to navigate as the Germans lay in wait in bunkers throughout the area.

Not only were we moved when visiting the beaches and the grounds of the perfectly manicured and landscaped tribute to our fallen soldiers of so long ago, but we were also pleased to see the reverence and respect that have kept this site an important place for Americans and other citizens to visit.

The walkway we took toward the American Cemetery and Memorial.
We walked through the garden and memorial in order the enter the area of the marked and unmarked gravesites.

As we walked in the sand on the almost barren Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, we could easily imagine the sorrowful struggle our soldiers bore as they stormed the beaches continually besieged by well planned German soldiers.

Us, on Omaha Beach, both grateful for the opportunity to visit historic Normandy, France.

The massive Allied assault on the Normandy coastline on June 6, 1944, aimed to liberate France and fight its way into Nazi Germany. Prior to dawn on June 6, three airborne divisions, the US 82nd and 101st and, the British 6th, landed by parachute and glider behind the targeted beaches.

Bronze statue at the cemetery, “The spirit of the American Youth Rising from the Waves”
View of the sea and Omaha Beach from the cemetery.

Allied naval forces including the US Coast Guard, conveyed assault forces across the English Channel. Beginning at 6:30 am six US, British and Canadian divisions landed on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches in history’s greatest amphibious assault.

This was only a small section of the gravesites of almost 10,000 fallen soldiers.
Grave marker for Theodore Roosevelt, Jr, son of former President Theodore Roosevelt.

Over the next three months, the Allies battled German troops throughout Normandy. British and Canadian freed Caen, France, and the Americans liberated Cherbourg staging a dramatic breakout. 

Memorial building on the grounds of the cemetery. 

There is a wall of names such as shown here in the Garden of the Missing.

Many exquisite roses and plantings highlight the grave plots as they trim the Garden of the Missing.

Allied troops, joined by French and Polish units encircled and annihilated German troops at the Falaise Pocket while surviving units fled eastward. At this point, the way was now open to advance toward Paris and then on to Germany.”

Soldier statue memorial at Omaha Beach.

For more information on Normandy, please click here.

Another bunker.
Machine guns and cannons were hidden in the German bunkers.
Tom at another bunker.
Another bunker at Omaha Beach.
Interior of a bunker.

After we left Normandy, we drove to the nearby village where we stopped to meander through the small village, entering a historic church in St. Mere Eglise built in the 13th century where there was a memorial of a paratrooper who landed and was hanging on the church’s steeple. So sorrowful.

View along Utah Beach.
Cannon on display at Utah Beach.

The town’s main claim to fame is that it played a significant part in the World War II Normandy landings because this village stood right in the middle of route N13, which the Germans would have most likely used on any significant counterattack on the troops landing on Utah and Omaha Beaches.

Rock formation at Utah Beach.
Path to statues at Utah Beach.
Utah beach was equally pristine as Omaha Beach.

“In the early morning of 6 June 1944 mixed units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions occupied the town in Operation Boston, giving it the claim to be one of the first towns liberated in the invasion.”

Statue and memorial to officers and seamen of the US Navy who transported all the US troops for the D-Day invasion.
The Pont du Hoc Monument is a granite pylon topping a bunker on a 100-foot cliff eight miles west of the cemetery. It honors soldiers of the 2nd Ranger Battalion who scaled the cliff to disable German guns threatening Utah and Omaha Beaches.

As Tom and I sat on a park bench facing the church, as we looked up at the memorial, once again we were touched by the powerful message and display remaining 70 years later.

St. Mere Eglaise Church with the Paratrooper Memorial which appears on the left of the church in this photo.

As shown in our photos, the historic church stands today as visitors come from all over the world to see the memorial and tribute to the brave men and women throughout the world who fought for freedom.

Alternate view of the Paratrooper Memorial.

Enjoy our photos as we enjoyed taking them, never for a moment forgetting the power of visiting Normandy and its surrounding area which in some manner or another, affected all of our lives.

The 13th-century church is in beautiful condition.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Part 2, Stonehenge which includes some fabulous photos of more historic sites.  Please check back soon.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, September 6, 2013:

Hans and Geri, our landlord and his wife, invited us for happy hour to their third-story veranda in their home next door to us. From this vantage point, we were able to see the Indian Ocean, in Diani Beach, Kenya, a short walk from our house. For details, please click here.