A day late…that’s me. I wanted to get my Cherbourg photos edited and put on up here on D-Day but because it’s also Greg’s birthday, I had to assess my priorities and his birthday came first. After all, he’s not getting any younger and D-Day is forever history.
Our hard-working and trusty friend Bob arranged a tour for us when we landed in Cherbourg, France. It was to take us to the D-Day landing beaches and beyond. Our tour guide was Olivier Criquet (http://www.normandy-sightseeing-tours.com). My sincere apologies if I have spelled your name incorrectly, Olivier. But I remember it well because you made it clear you are not related to Jiminy Cricket.
I was unprepared for the impact these places would have on me. Looking at the calm and beautiful beaches and the surrounding tranquil countryside, it was difficult to believe that such violence and bloodshed took place there sixty-seven years ago.
Our first stop was at Pointe du Hoc where the German bunkers haven’t been touched since 1944…lest we forget. Olivier explained the strategic advantage that the German’s had at this site and we were able to go into a bunker and get a small feeling of what it must have been like so many years ago.
Olivier showed us Omaha Beach. Then we went to the American Cemetery, which overlooks the eastern end of Omaha Beach. The cemetery holds the bodies of 9,387 Americans. It is a beautiful and serene location and I’m sure it must be a small comfort for the families of the soldiers killed there that it is such a picturesque and peaceful place.
Before we took in Utah Beach, we visited the German Cemetery, resting place of more than 21,000 German soldiers. There I saw a quote from Joseph J. Shomon that touched me deeply. Shomon was the American commandant of the 611th Graves Registration Company whose task was to be in charge of the construction of military graveyards. Shomon said, “The loss of a loved one can never be forgotten. Where the dead rest is important. But it is not of ultimate importance. These men are dead. And how much firmer should be our commitment to make the world a better place to live in. War is hell on earth. The dead bear silent witness to this.”
|German bunker at Pointe du Hoc|
|Note the depressions in the earth created by bomb drops. At Pointe du Hoc.|
|Omaha Beach, Normandy, France|
|At the American Cemetery, Normandy, France.|
|The soldiers' graves are the greatest preachers of peace." ` Albert Schweitzer|
|The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves by Donald DeLue at the American Cemetery.|
|The German Cemetery in Normandy, France.|