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  • Day4

    D-Day

    June 16, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 55 °F

    This will probably be my favorite day. We are going to the beaches of Normandy, D-Day memorial and the American cemetary.
    But first, we stop for breakfast. It's McDonalds for convenience sake. We got our first look st the kiosks that will put teenage kids out of work in a few years. The problem is, they reduced the counter help and the ones preparing the food.
    We stopped first at the batteries in Lounges-sur-Mur. The 155mm guns had a range of12 miles and wreaked havoc on ships off of Omaha and Gold beaches. June 6, 1944 was their last day of operation since the British obtained the surrender of the guns the morning of June 7th.
    Next we went to, in my estimation, the most significant place in history, short of of Calvary. The American Cemetary and memorial overlooking Omaha beach. It was such a moving experience to stand on the same soil where so many men made the ultimate sacrifice. I was disappointed to find out that we were not able to go down to Omaha beach itself. I overheard that the steps have been closed off for about two years.
    The memorial itself was great. So many informative videos, timelines, and stories of different people.
    And the cemetery itself made it all worth the trip. I can't express it in words.
    We then headed to the village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. Hours before the main invasion on D-Day, over 13K paratroopers dropped in behind enemy lines. Many were dropped away from their intended drop zones and some of them were in Sainte-Mere-Eglise. German troops were waiting for them and many were killed before they ever hit the ground. One was John Steele, who's parachute was caught on the balusters of the church in the middle of the square. He hung there for several hours pretending to be dead. The church has a mannequin hanging from a parachute to assimilate what it was like.
    The stained glass in the church pays homage to the events of D-Day and to the paratroopers that helped liberate them from Nazi occupation. One of the windows shows Mary surrounded by paratroopers.
    The town itself is more commercialized than what we have seen so far. Lots of little shops selling military memorabilia.
    For lunch, I went into a patisserie and bought a baggett and butter and washed it down with
    water. Kroger's deli doesn't have anything on this place.
    Our last stop of the day was at Pointe du Hoc. A German battery built on high cliffs south of Omaha beach. It is most impressive because it has been more preserved than other sites. The craters from bombs dropped by planes and shells from battleships are deep and to numerous to count. You can tell where some of the heavily fortified bunkers had direct hits and huge blocks of concrete weighing tons were strewn about. It just happened that the battleship USS Texas participated in that attack. The USS Texas currently sits in a Houston ship channel next to the San Jacinto monument, which we visited with the kids and my sister several years ago.
    We had dinner in Bayeux again. I had a pizza. I'm getting better at ordering in French. It is here I am reminded of Europe's aversion to ice. I just don't get it.
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