Being the seriously casual traveler I am, In tend to be a seriously casual writer, but not today, today I’m all serious. Because today was a different type of day for me. A day of remembrance. A day of respect. A day of honoring the American men and women who sacrifice to preserve the liberties I’ve come to know as America. So, with my beanie off and right hand covering my heart I remember, honor and thank the generations before, during and ahead of my own life that have, are, will continue to uphold the principals that make the United States the greatest country in the world. Today was my first day with my host family and my host father took me and two other work-exchange volunteers to the cemetery.
The Allies’ ambitious landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the end of the European Theatre although at the time the 73,000 American men responsible for breaking Hitler’s Atlantic wall at Utah and Omaha beach were only boys, unaware of the challenges, enemies, accomplishments, victories and liberation from Nazi oppression they carried on their soldiers for France and the world. The following quotes are from General Eisenhower’s message to our soldiers about to change the world. The following pictures are from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
The formations of Allied planes dropping paratroopers stretched 300 miles across the sky like ribbon and dropped 14,000 American soldiers deep behind enemy lines. Merry Christmas France. Around 75,000 American soldiers stormed Utah and Omaha beach. 4,650 Americans died in a matter of hours. And estimated casualties are growing as more research is done.
We ow our World War II veterans – and all our veterans – a debt we can never fully repay.
Here’s some pictures from 69 years ago I stole from google for you viewing pleasure.
Bomb craters feel a whole lot more destructive when you’ve stood in one.
A Seriously Casual Traveler