They were called upon to sacrifice everything for love of country and freedom. What were they thinking in the early hours of June 6, 1944 when they landed on the beaches of Normandy France? In spite of overwhelming obstacles, Allied soldiers prevailed, paving the way for Hitler’s Germany to be defeated in WW2.
Peter and I had the privilege of visiting Normandy on Monday, July 1. We arranged a visit with a fabulous tour company and spent the day with two other couples (both from CA). We were led by the most outstanding French tour guide, a local woman from a nearby village who has been leading Normandy tours for almost 20 years. Our guide was inspiring in her breadth and depth of knowledge on both World Wars. The most amazing part of the tour was listening to her stories. She had so much to share from her year’s meeting people from around the world. Some of the more memorable stories are included below.
The Germans shot at the Rangers from a bunker at the top of the Omaha beach ridge. The Rangers amazingly climbed the sheer cliff (above) on D-Day paving the way for other Allied soldiers to follow.
Peter and Jen inside the German bunker on Omaha Beach.
- A few days after the Allies had come on shore after D-Day, a Canadian soldier (whose mom had told him not to smoke) was walking toward his men. When he got close to one of the tall Normandy hedges, he stopped at the smell of smoke. (He had become very adept at smelling different kinds of cigarettes.) Standing very still, he realized that the smoke he smelled was not familiar. Then he heard the sound of German voices. He waited near the hedge for hours until the German soldiers on the other side departed. Later, he safely rejoined his men. He later shared “my mom saved my life, had I been a smoker, I would not have known the different smoke smells!)
- There is one widow left from WW2, according to a guide from the American cemetery. Peggy and Billy Harris were married before Billy shipped out to France. Billy died on D-Day and is buried in the American cemetery. Peggy came to Normandy annually, to visit Billy’s grave. Peggy is now 94 and unable to travel. Billy was the love of her life thus she never married again. Each year on their wedding anniversary, the gals from the American cemetery hold a phone over his grave so Peggy can sing to him.
- Peter and I had a chance to visit the grave of my dear friend’s brother. He died at Normandy during the D-Day invasion. It was humbling to receive an American flag in his honor after we had prayed at his cross. The people who work at the cemetery are truly dedicated and treat the fallen soldiers (and visitors) with respect and honor.
- Did you know that there are four women buried in the American cemetery at Normandy?
American monument at Normandy
There were so many other stories shared – tales of bravery and suffering by French civilians. Stories about the tragic ways our soldiers perished. And stories about the ways our soldiers heroically sacrificed everything to accomplish their ultimate mission. The Allied troops were selfless in their duty and put God and country first. This is the reason for our ultimate victory.
Our sons and daughters should look to these heroes for examples of honor and courage in today’s world. May God bless them for their bravery in the face of evil. Almost 75 years later, may we follow in their footsteps to denounce evil and hatred wherever it is found.
American cemetery Normandy, so many crosses of fallen heroes.
Gold Beach – place of the Allied artificial port.