A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting the Normandy Beaches with my parents and friends. These friends had been so gracious to take us into their home and let us use it as a base to travel around Normandy and then to take us to the Normandy Beaches. We didn't see all of them but we got to see quite a bit. This was such a powerful experience and to me it represents what Memorial Day is all about.
This was at one of the first stops we made, a large tank and a memorial. At that same location you can see some of the barriers the Germans used, one of the big guns and a ship anchor. Then we moved on down to one of the bunkers and looked out from inside to see the landing points that would have been inundated with many American troops. The views were spectacular. If it had been clearer even more beautiful but the clouds and rain made it seem even more special to experience. Some of the bunkers had large gun turrets that remained, some had doors on the hinges, each one was different.
From there we went to the memorial at Omaha Beach. The interior of the museum was amazing with lots of information and examples of what occurred on that fateful day. What a spiritual experience to think back to that day so many years ago. It must have been extraordinary, adrenaline and fear all mixed into one. Most of my pictures from that museum are from the outside where thousands of soldiers lie.
The day was not a sure victory for the Allies. They were not assured of being able to conquer the Germans. They had a momentous task, to move the whole force of 156,000 personnel across the English Channel along with millions of tons of equipment. They needed good weather for planes and ships to cross and for paratroopers to jump safely. This was an all or nothing attempt to conquer the Germans and begin to take back the European continent. Casualties were thought to be in excess of 20,000 before they landed and at the end of the day suffered half that number.
I think on these things and am thankful for our ancestors, one being my grandfather stationed in England but not deployed to D-Day. I'm thankful for those who sacrificed their lives so that evil could be conquered. Let us take this Memorial Day to pause and reflect.
Thanks for visiting and remember to always "Strive to Arrive"!