Well today was what the whole trip was all about. Revisit the beaches of Normandy. We were here 30 years ago. The beaches, which are a living museum, have not changed. Buildings, churches and homes that were destroyed here during World War II have been rebuilt and/or restored. Also, museums and memorials have been built to celebrate the 40th and 50th Anniversaries of D-Day which weren't here when we last visited.
The weather was cold and gray and only a little rainy; as it should be during this solemn visit.
The D-Day landings, code-named "Operation Overlord," were the largest military operation in recorded history. The beaches of Normandy bore the brunt of the invasion. Beginning at 6:30 am on June 6, 1944, nearly 7000 boats hit the beaches along the coast of Normandy. Those vessels carried ten of thousands of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, all of whom arrived determined to carry out General Eisenhower's order, "Full victory-nothing else." They were to liberate France and push the German's back across the Rhine River.
We started at Point du Hoc. It is a promontory with a 100 ft cliff overlooking the English Channel on the coast of Normandy in northern France. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete bunkers and gun pits. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group assaulted and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.
Then we moved on to Arromanches, one of the British beach heads. No other port is more closely linked with the liberation of Western Europe after D-Day. Along with the staggeringly big concrete blocks remaining from the Mulberry Harbour towed over from Britain in June 1944, war museums bring the massive Allied operations here back to life.
Next we visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It is a World War II cemetery and memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, that honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II. Grand Circle Tours had requested a special ceremony to honor the veterans who are on this tour. It was very special. They then gave all of us one rose to put on one the the graves in the cemetery.
Last but not least we visited Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach is a landing area in Normandy, northern France, used by Allied forces in the WWII D-Day invasion. Today, the beach is dotted with the remains of German bunkers. On the shore, the stainless-steel sculpture Les Braves commemorates American soldiers. Behind the beach is the Musée Mémorial d'Omaha Beach, also documenting the invasion. Nearby, the Overlord Museum displays WWII tanks, artillery and dioramas. They have done a very nice job of keeping the beaches as special living history.