Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Normandy, Day Four, Walking in the Shadows of Sacrifice

Omaha Beach, The American Cemetery, Pointe Du Hoc

After settling into our accommodations in Bayeux, we toured the town center, easily walking everywhere and discovering our some locally brewed beers at a great Wine shop run by Michel Peron (more on that later).  The Next morning we set off for Omaha Beach encountering the Overlord Museum along the way.  Another great museum displaying equipment, relics  and more from the Battle of Normandy.
Overlord Museum near Omaha beach
Tanks used in the Battle, depiction of
a Higgins Boat, (landing craft)
evacuating wounded from Omaha Beach.

From the museum, we drove to Colleville-sur-Mer to experience the American Cemetery.  It is an extraordinary place.  Most of you are familiar with it, having seen it in films and documentaries, but to be there in person is a truly spiritual experience.  Over one million people visit the cemetery each year.  It is 172.5 acres of meticulously maintained grounds honoring the remains of 9,387 American dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day invasion and ensuing operations to take Normandy.  The majority of the visitors there that day were Europeans, many  French with a handful of Americans.  All of them reverent and respectful.  The French, despite what you may have heard, are still very appreciative of the sacrifice the Americans made to free them from tyranny.
The American Cemetery At Colleville-Sur-Mer
Just above Omaha Beach

It was a beautiful and moving experience for Joseph and me.  It is unfortunate that everyone cannot come here and sense what we felt.  
Omaha Beach Memorial & sculpture
From there we headed east along the coast to the Omaha Beach Memorial.  As we drove towards the shore, we saw an old concrete bunker and stopped.   After that we drove along the length of Omaha Beach, stopping at the memorial.  To see the challenges the invaders faced just in the topography alone-vast stretches of exposed beach at low tide- then add in the defenders and the weapons, is simply awe-inspiring.  From there we headed to Pointe-Du-Hoc, site of the famous Ranger assault.   Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 100 ft cliff overlooking the English Channel.  It was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east.  It is still pock-marked with bomb craters due to the 
Les Braves sculpture. Read more about this interesting
 sculpture at the link below  
extensive bombing that occurred before the invasion.  Again, so awe inspiring to peer down and see what the Rangers faced in their climb and assault.  You can read more about it at the link provided below.  It had been a cloudy day until we got to Omaha Beach and Pointe Du Hoc.  The sun shined brilliantly on that crisp fall day.  It was calm, beautiful and peaceful on the cliffs. The concrete bunkers, eerily echoing the voices of the tourists walking inside of them.  A scenic overlook, and another reminder of the sacrifices made over 72 years ago. 

Read more about Pointe Du Hoc and the Ranger assault:
Omaha Beach Memorial

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