The next morning we went out to explore the various D-Day landing sites along the French coast. A stretch of 75 miles of Norman coast is full of museums, monuments, cemeteries, and remnants from the battles that took place here in 1944. It all stands as a tribute to the incredible bravery of the American, British, and Canadian troops that successfully carried out the largest military operation in history.
I felt like it was a sign from above and instantly felt peace. It was a very moving experience.
This battery was an important part of Hitler's "Atlantic Wall" defense made up of 15,000 structures stretching from the Pyrenees in the south to Norway in the north.
Looking along the barrel of one of the intact guns.
The gorgeous coastal path Sentier du Littoral.
Next on our itinerary was a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Flags of all the Allied countries we on display in the museum.
Outside the museum you first come to the striking memorial. The statue represents "the spirit of American youth" and giant reliefs of the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of Europe flank it.
And then, crowning a bluff just above Omaha Beach, stand 9,387 brilliant white Crosses and Stars of David commemorating the brave men who gave their lives for European freedom.
Before coming on this trip, Chris made me watch Saving Private Ryan so I would better appreciate the sites we were going to see. While it made me sick to my stomach and I couldn't sleep for two nights, I am glad I watched it. The movie was based on the story of the four Niland brothers, 3 of whom were thought to be killed within about a week of each other. While one of the three presumed dead was actually a POW and survived the war, two of the brothers are buried side by side here.
The area is peaceful and beautiful today. These men deserve such a place to rest in peace.
Luxembourg American Cemetery over Memorial Day weekend.
Just down the hill from the memorial and cemetery is the actual site of Omaha Beach. If you've seen Saving Private Ryan, the grueling 25 minute opening scene was depicting the landings at this very place.
Omaha Beach witnessed by far the most intense battles of any along the D-Day beaches. The hills above the beach were heavily fortified. A single German machine gun could fire 1,200 rounds a minute. It's amazing anyone survived. Around 4,000 soldiers were killed or wounded on D-Day at Omaha Beach.
Standing on Omaha Beach. We picked up a small handful of sand to take with us.
When you enter the actual site, the bomb craters that remain leave the area looking like the surface of the moon.
The kids and Chris hiked down into some of the craters.
At the very point of the Pointe stands a memorial to the brave Rangers who fought and died here. It symbolizes the Ranger dagger planted firmly in the ground.Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
The observation bunker below the memorial dagger.