I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to this day. I am not a history buff, and never paid much attention in my US and World History classes in high school and college. I know the basics about World War II (i.e. the Holocaust), but certainly don't know very little about US involvement (except, we won the war for everyone, right?). So when Andrew expressed his excitement for a full-day excursion to visit the beaches of Normandy, I was less than ecstatic.
But we agreed to do an independent tour, and to get as far as the day would take us. We started in the town of Bayeux, where we were able to visit a WWII museum and were able to see the actual uniforms and equipment of the men that stormed the beaches on D-Day. We also could look out on the water and see the man-made harbor in the ocean that was used to bring the men onto shore.
We then drove to Longues sur Mer, where we saw German bunkers used in defense of the beaches. Andrew explained how each building was specifically designed for a certain type of gun, each serving a specific purpose. We could still see the actual shell holes and bullet holes in the cement. And as the wind blew in from the ocean, I could feel the eeriness of the death that must have occurred here in 1944.
We then drove to Omaha Beach, one of the two beaches that US captured, and visited the US Memorial and cemetery, where thousands upon thousands of young soldiers were buried. The memorial was beautifully curated, and the stories of the specific young men made the experience ever the more personal for me.
As we walked the cemetery, I couldn’t help but cry for the young lives lost in this war. I found the grave of a specific soldier who was from Kentucky, and had to sit and pray for his family and speak with him. Ask him about who he was before the war, how he died, and what he must have left behind.
We ended the day in silence, in appreciation for the sacrifices made, and in sadness for lives taken too soon.