A year ago today I was privileged to be on the beaches of Normandy and in Sainte-Mère-Église for the ceremonies commemorating the 66th anniversary of the landing of the Allied forces on D-Day. It was amazing to stand next to the men who fought to give freedom to others. Men who risked everything to free an entire continent that was under the oppression and persecution of the Nazis.
For some reason, due to Hollywood movies I suppose, I’d always envisioned Omaha, Utah, and Sword beach being relativity small. I never thought that our soldiers had to, in some cases, run upwards of 200 yards across open sand. Honestly, it was a miracle that we were able to take the beach at all.
For those men who did manage to make it across the beaches, they faced the challenge of breaching numerous layers of German defenses. Even though Hitler had put most of his efforts into defending the coastline near Calais (about a 125 miles North East), the beaches of Normandy still formed a deadly obstacle for the American soldiers.
Unfortunately, many of our men paid with their lives.
Normandy cemetery is among the most beautiful and revered cemeteries in the world.
The most moving thing for me during my visit to Normandy was learning of that the French have adopted fallen American solder’s headstones. Almost immediately after the D-Day invasion of June 1944 – local families made sure that each soldier’s graves was tented to. That tradition has been handed down through the generations, and is continued to today.
These photos are candid pictures are of a French family paying their respects, and teaching the next generation to do the same.
They placed flowers and brought sand from Omaha beach for each boy to rub on the headstones they visited.
Posing briefly for a picture for the boys grandparents for a picture and moved on to honor another soldier. I candidly observed this ritual repeated through out the afternoon. Many other grateful French families were also there paying their respects to the men who paid the ultimate price for their freedom.
If the French will never forget the price of freedom, I pray that we as Americans we never will either. I believe the iHistory Project: WW2 should be in every American high school. So please, help spread the word by sharing this website with your local teachers, home school groups, and church groups. Thank you.
The iHP: WW2 is important in keeping the relevance of defeating Hitler and the Axis powers so that history will not be repeated.
And remember to thank a veteran… they’re often disguised as a Wal-Mart greeters, volunteers, and grandparents. For more information, visit the iHistory Project-WW2 or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org