The Beaches of Normandie

What a somber day it was, the day we traveled to Normandie.  It seemed almost fitting that the weather had turned cold and the skies gray.  We traveled from our boat by bus to the beaches of Normandy early one morning and along the way our tour guide gave us the chilling tale of the lives lost there.  The lives lost to protect our freedom.  The freedom that we, as Americans, so often take for granted.  Today, I share with you some of the photos that I took while there and the feelings I felt while visiting this incredible memorial.
 There were five designated beaches used during the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.  Of these five, Juno Beach, Sword Beach and Omaha Beach were the main sites of Allied Forces attacks led by the Canadians, British and Americans, respectively.  Although ultimately victorious, there were bloody battles and casualties in the thousands, testimony to why these beaches themselves have become monuments to the bravery of the Allied troops. (Viking Daily; Viking Cruise Line.)

The Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery, otherwise known as "Batterie Allemande", was the location of a German long-range artillery battery.  Before being captured by the British 231st Division, it played a vital role in Germany's effort to defend itself during the Allied Forces' Normandy landings.  It has four 150-mm guns and is located between the vital Allied landing beaches of Gold and Omaha.

On our way to the American Cemetery and Museum, we passed the first site of the American Cemetery in France.
This cross was just sitting out there on the side of the road before reaching the beaches.  How beautiful I thought it was and snapped a photo from the window of our bus.
When we first arrived at the American Cemetery and Museum site, there was a memorial service set up for us.  The silence was deafening.  And then they played our National Anthem.  There were many tears shed here that day.  It was one of the most emotionally touching places I have ever visited.
At the end of the ceremony we were each given a rose to place on a grave.  We walked and walked for such a long while, thinking about these men who died defending our freedom.  How would we choose a place to rest our one rose?

This 172.5 acre cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach.  There are 9,387 United State military buried here.  Most lost their lives in the D-Day landings.
Our final stop was Omaha Beach, where we were able to get out and actually walk on the sands where so many soldiers lost their lives.

As we loaded our bus to head back to the boat, the sun was setting and the wind turning even colder.  As I pondered the events of the past I felt proud to be and American.  Proud that we stand for freedom.  And thankful for those men and women who have and still put their lives on the lines for our freedom every day.
I collected some sand from Omaha Beach in Normandie.  It sits on the desk in my bedroom.  There is not a day that passes when I do not look at it and remember...

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