I awoke today to a gloomy day which is very fitting. My thoughts immediately went to 65 years ago today when my father, and many other young Americans, were far away from home and their loved ones in Normandy, France. They were not on vacation, but rather they were in the midst of battle. It was a terrible day that many of them would not survive. The allied forces were storming the landing beaches of Omaha, Utah, Gold, and Juno.
Five years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the very beach where my father had been under attack. His tank was sunk by enemy fire. Fortunately, he was rescued and lived another day to fight on to help liberate the world from the enemy.
My father would not speak about D-Day, or any of the other battles he fought. He did have a chance to go back to Normandy for the 40th Anniversary. He visited the grave of his commanding officer. My father was a strong man, who rarely showed his emotions, but that visit brought tears to his eyes.
With each passing year, there are less survivors alive from D-Day. My father is one that is gone, so the only opportunity that I have to learn more about D-Day and the other battles he was in, is to visit the sites myself with a knowledgeable local guide as well as read about it in books or on the internet.
As I mentioned, we had the opportunity to retrace history in 2004 when our Royal Caribbean cruise called at LeHavre, France. We hired a local guide and toured Normandy stopping at the various cemetaries, the landing beaches, and other points of interest. You can read more about our visit by clicking the "previous posts" link below.
I often talk about the value that a cruise vacation offers. The obvious value comes from having a vacation that includes your accomodations, food, and entertainment in one price. An intangible value comes from the knowledge you can gain by visiting historic sites. When you dock in LeHavre, France, it is quite easy to visit Normandy. I highly suggest you include that port in one of your future cruise vacations.
Some D-Day References on the Web
This year we visited Arnhem, Netherlands where we visited the Canadian Cemetary and the Liberation Museum. Again, this was while on a cruise vacation. See my Arnhem posts for more details.