For the record, this will be a serious post. A less-serious post concerning our adventures in Bayeux will be posted later.
This past weekend, we visited Normandy, the site of the D-Day invasion. We had a guided tour of the German battery at Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, and Arromanches. (Explanations to come later.) I would like to simply state for the record that I am eternally grateful to all veterans who might now or at any time in the future read this. Thank you.
Pointe du Hoc was the most difficult portion (for the U.S.) of the June 6, 1944 invasion known as "Operation Overlord." The sheer cliffs of this section of beach headed off by a German gun battery and capped by a poorly placed wind shift placed the U.S. Army Rangers that were tasked with taking this section of beachhead in an awful predicament. Because the 101st Airborne Division had been blown several hundred feet off course, the Rangers blindly reached for a section of beach that was a bay's length away from the intended landing site. They then proceeded to reverse course and return to their intended beachhead. At this time, the Rangers began scrambling up rope ladders and many fell to their deaths in the mad scramble.
Omaha Beach was also a very difficult section of beach to tackle, and the first wave of men and materiel were utterly eradicated. This is the portion of the D-Day landing experience that most people think of when considering the Overlord operation. The men only had to scurry a few hundred feet in this section, but it was a very difficult feat under the suppression of German firepower.
Arromanches is an area included in the invasion site where the Allies constructed an artificial harbor more or less overnight. The pieces were constructed in Britain and shipped across with the invasion force. After the beaches had been more or less secured, the British assembled the harbor with the purpose of continuing to move goods and men into France to support the war effort.
The American cemetery was incredibly awe-inspiring. The sanctuary (located very close to Omaha Beach) is a garden-type peaceful atmosphere. 10,000 American soldiers slain in one war are lain in the field. The cemetery is laid so that one could feel the weight of all of the hopes for peace and an end to war that lay in the field along with a shared commitment to sacrifice to end tyranny.
We also visited a day prior a British Cemetery that housed all nationalities that would fit in the plot of land, including over 400 German soldiers. Although I disagree with the cause that the Germans were fighting for, I believe that one can always find honor in one so committed to protecting his homeland. There were over 1,000 British soldiers in the plot along with a number of Soviet and Canadian soldiers.
Again, to all veterans, I cannot thank you enough.
(PS: Pics to come)