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Thread: Normandy Invasion Memorials

  1. #1
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Normandy Invasion Memorials

    For the first time ever we are visiting France. One item on our must-see list is Normandy and the memorials there. We spent the day yesterday at all those sites. My overwhelming response is one of awe, and my my advice to every American is to see those sites before you die -- the younger the better. Our 17 year-old daughter calls yesterday her favorite day of the trip.

    Just before leaving home I downloaded Cornelius Ryan's The Longest Day. Reading that before and after the visit to the memorials really set the stage for me, intellectually and emotionally. While riding to and from Normandy, I watched this PBS video (available on iTunes), which consists of interviews with veterans of the invasion. It was hard not to tear up while watching those men tell their stories - especially after touring the cemetery at Omaha Beach.

    This year being the 70th anniversary of the invasion, there was a lot of attention paid to it. At the main museum in Caen (built, with a sense of irony, I think, atop the bunker used by the German command) there was a large crowd, most of which seemed to be French. There are gardens in the area behind the museum, and they are very well done, quiet and designed for contemplation. I think they were added for the 50th anniversary in 1994. We saw the gardens last. Inscribed in the marble by the American reflecting pool and waterfall were some words that were hard to make out. I got down on my knees and read them slowly to my family:

    From the heart of our country flows the blood of our youth
    Given to you in the name of freedom.

    By the time I got to the last 5 words I was too choked up to read them aloud.

    Anyway, if you haven't been, go. I'm going back someday with my older sons.
    Last edited by LA Ute; 07-21-2014 at 09:49 AM.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  2. #2
    I agree with you that they are very, very powerful and moving. So is the British cemetery in Thailand on the river Kwai where the soldiers who built the trestle died. Not crosses, but bronze or golden headstones that glow in the sun.

  3. #3
    That's amazing LA. Concerned - I had never heard of that cemetery near the river Kwai. Beautiful!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    For the first time ever we are visiting France. One item on our must-see list is Normandy and the memorials there. We spent the day yesterday at all those sites. My overwhelming response is one of awe, and my my advice to every American is to see those sites before you die -- the younger the better. Our 17 year-old daughter calls yesterday her favorite day of the trip.

    Just before leaving home I downloaded Cornelius Ryan's The Longest Day. Reading that before and after the visit to the memorials really set the stage for me, intellectually and emotionally. While riding to and from Normandy, I watched this PBS video (available on iTunes), which consists of interviews with veterans of the invasion. It was hard not to tear up while watching those men tell their stories - especially after touring the cemetery at Omaha Beach.

    This year being the 70th anniversary of the invasion, there was a lot of attention paid to it. At the main museum in Caen (built, with a sense of irony, I think, atop the bunker used by the German command) there was a large crowd, most of which seemed to be French. There are gardens in the area behind the museum, and they are very well done, quiet and designed for contemplation. I think they were added for the 50th anniversary in 1994. We saw the gardens last. Inscribed in the marble by the American reflecting pool and waterfall were some words that were hard to make out. I got down on my knees and read them slowly to my family:

    From the heart of our country flows the blood of our youth
    Given to you in the name of freedom.

    By the time I got to the last 5 words I was too choked up to read them aloud.

    Anyway, if you haven't been, go. I'm going back someday with my older sons.
    I realize your post was from two years ago but I just noticed it today. My wife and I visited Normandy and the D-day beaches in September 2015 and it was the highlight of our 10 day trip to France which included 5 days in Paris/Versailles.

    Admittedly, it has always been one of my bucket list places as I am a big WWII buff. We had great weather and based in Bayeaux for 2 1/2 days. What were your favorite spots? I found the US cemetary above Omaha Beach incredibly moving. I also was fascinated by Pointe-du-Hoc.

    Did you also get a chance to trip over to Mt. St. Michel? I really enjoyed that as well and the entire Normandy area.

  5. #5
    Former Ute Dallin Rogers is doing a fundraiser around D-Day. He and two buddies plan to swim 6.2 miles through the English Chanel onto Omaha Beach and then do a 20 mile ruck/run to Saint Lo, France. Last year they walked Sparta to Thermopolis Greece. Check it out https://operationgood.org
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