A week after Veteran’s Day, it is suitable to write about the D-Day landings. A few days after the Paris attacks it is too, because the soldiers who lost their lives in Normandy in June 1944 did so to bring safety, peace, freedom, and civil liberties back to continental Europe, something that we must not forget today.
When we travelled to Normandy this September, S. little one and I did not only hunt for beautiful Seashells, we also took a dive into the local history. We did not visit the Tapestry of Bayeux, that will happen next time… We made sure to visit Omaha Beach.
We started our visit by visiting the memorial museum at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. It felt like revisiting history classes and books, as the second world war was something that I had extensively studied at school and regularly see with my students. I was also reminded of when I attended the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Caen, but that is another story (maybe for the 6h of June to come?). No one spoke French around us, the cemetery is after all operated by the US. English, American, and German people seemed to be visiting their ancestors’ past.
After we left the museum we made our way down to the beach. The path was well kept and easily manageable, even in bad weather conditions (the rain often started pelting down on us). Back in 1944 there were no such paths, and climbing up slopes in enemy fire must have been really really different. Down at the beach, there were no more traces of the war. It was peaceful and quiet. Nature had taken back her territory.
We enjoyed an extensive walk on the beach. Wind and rain kept other people away. Eventually little one fell asleep and S and I climbed back up to the cemetery, eating wild blackberries. We walked a bit through the cemetery, which is astoundingly well kept.
I hope that the efforts of all of those who left their lives behind to free Europe during the 1940s were not in vain.
© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.