Friday, June 6

Remembering D-Day

On a cold Spring day 15 years ago, as Mr.P, Jared and I traveled through France, we visited the beach at Colleville-sur-Mer. As the tall grasses swayed in the breeze and sunlight sparkled on the waters of the English Channel, it struck me how utterly peaceful it all seemed. Only a sign on the hill overlooking the shore suggested that this was anything but a bucolic, seaside resort area. But indeed it was Omaha Beach where countless hard-fought soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The story of the horror and heroism of Utah Beach has been told and retold in many books and articles and such movies as Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day. On D-Day, here along this five mile stretch of shoreline, it was an inferno of noise, smoke and slaughter. Had the American servicemen not battled their way through the fierce German defenses along this beach, the outcome of the entire invasion, and subsequently the war, might have been different.

After touring the American cemeteries that overlook the English Channel, we three headed on our way. We didn't talk much more about the war or the men that had died here all those years ago. We were off to discover new places and faces in France. After travelling to the south of France, we ended our trip in Paris. One evening we met this still-spry US veteran, quite by accident, in a restaurant along the Champs Elysees. We noticed his service cap and stopped to talk with him. He was a retired US Serviceman who had landed on the beach in Normandy on D-Day in the first wave and happened to be in France for the 55th anniversary of this historic event. This kind gentleman, whose name we can not remember, took the time to tell us his personal harrowing story of that day long ago and allowed us to take his picture with Jared, who was 10 at the time. What are the odds we would meet an American GI just days after we had visited Omaha Beach and the American Cemeteries in Normandy? What a wonderful experience - for a brief moment it brought history to life for us - something we will never forget.

A patriotic salute to all who have valiantly served our country and also to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. May God Bless our United States of America!


D-Day, Normandy, France, family, history, America, servicemen, GI's, honor, glory, war,

2 comments:

  1. What a great experience! I would love to be able to visit the beach there.

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  2. There's nothing like it! So peaceful considering what happened there. Something our son will never forget!

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