Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Then and Now 70 Years Later

D-Day Landing - Arnhem (Groesbeek) - Liberation Museum
70th Anniversary
June 6, 2014

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, my father landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. He never spoke much about that day, other than to say that his tank had sunk, he had been rescued, and was redeployed. He was in his early 20s at the time.

Today marks another anniversary of D-Day, the day that the allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to begin to take back Europe.   The generation that fought that battle are slowly fading away, leaving only written accounts in their place.

My father is among those who are no longer with us. He and his comrades live on in our hearts as we honor them today during the commemoration of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.  On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary, many surviving soldiers have gathered to participate in various events.

"Just last week, I received a letter from a French citizen.  “Dear Mr. President, and the American people,” he wrote, “[we are] honored to welcome you… to thank you again for all the pain and efforts of [the] American people and others in our common struggle for freedom.”
 "Today, we say the same to the people of France.  Thank you, especially, for the generosity that you’ve shown the Americans who’ve come here over the generations -- to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans.  At the end of the war, when our ships set off for America, filled with our fallen, tens of thousands of liberated Europeans turned out to say farewell, and they pledged to take care of the more than 60,000 Americans who would remain in cemeteries on this continent.  In the words of one man, we will take care of the fallen “as if their tombs were our children’s.”  And the people of France, you have kept your word like the true friends you are.  We are forever grateful."  (Applause.)  ~Remarks by President Obama at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day -- Omaha Beach, Normandy  [Read more...]
  Retracing History

My parents went back to Normandy many years later for the 40th anniversary observance.  He visited the grave of his commanding officer in the American Cemetery (shown to the left).   Despite all his bravery, that sight moved him to tears. My husband and I returned to Omaha Beach and several historic sites in Normandy, France for the 60th anniversary.

This was a very moving experience for us as well and it brought to life events which until then was just something we read about in history books.

That trip was in conjunction with a 12 Night British Isles / Norwegian Fjords cruise.   We arranged for a private tour with a local guide during which we walked on the beaches, visited all four of the cemeteries and other memorial sites.

Normandy Then & Now

The benefit of using a local guide was that we not only visited the various sites, but were also provided historical background, through images from 1944 so that we could experience Normandy in a totally different way.

Must See Sites

Our guide picked us from our ship in LeHarve early in the morning and returned us there in early evening.   He could have gone longer, but we were tired and decided to return to the ship instead of having dinner in Honfleur.

70th Anniversary Links:

70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy

70th Anniversary Events - National D-Day Memorial

More Coverage  on Twitter  70eNormandie    @ChrisPappinMCC

Powerful interactive exhibit on and Invasion from & is available here:  

Explore artifacts, oral histories, and more from The National WWII Museum D-Day:  

In honor of this Anniversary of D-Day, we have updated links in our previous blog articles and also gathered all our photo albums on a Shutterfly Share Page.

Read More on our Blog:

Normandy, France - Retracing History

Our tour started with visits to all three cemeteries:

The British Cemetery (Bayuex War Cemetary)
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
German Cemetery (La Cambe German Cemetery)

Normandy, France - Retracing History (Part 2)

Not far from  Normandy Beaches we stopped at:

Le Grand Bunker Museum 
Pegasus Bridge
Normandy, France - Retracing History (Part 3)

We concluded our Normandy visit with three destinations:
St Mere Eglise
Pointe du Hoc
Honfleur, France

D-Day      6 June 1944

The beaches were quiet the day we visited the Normandy Beaches unlike the early morning hours in 1944. I encourage you to include a visit to Normandy should your cruise call in LeHavre, France.  Bring the entire family, especially children, so that they can bring history to life.

The Landing Zones:

Utah beach    Pointe du Hoc   Omaha beach    Gold beach   Juno beach   Sword beach

Some More D-Day References on the Web
Normandie Mémoire
National D-Day Mermorial Foundation
Previous D-Day Posts

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