Between 94-degree weather and another terrorist attack, perhaps it was a good day to be out of Paris and into the sweet peace of Normandy. Our weather was much cooler with ocean breezes most of the day…and an intimate look at French countryside for the family. Nothing is quite like winding along tiny French roads from one small village to another…the flowers, the fields, the look of an American flag flying side-by-side with a French flag from many a window. Americans are still beloved in this region for their heroic efforts in World War II, and that was the message of the day, brought home to Andrew and Avery in such vivid, emotional snapshots of history. For ages 13 and 10, they were real troopers and stayed interested and fascinated for the entire trip. It was a lot of walking, processing, and patience, and they both get an A+! It will probably go down as the family’s favorite day, as well it should.
We rented a car in Caen which of course is complicated, and the family watched as the nuances of culture differences became evident (like paying 20 centimes to use the restroom!). Bernie did an amazing job getting us out of the city and on the road to first Omaha Beach.
It’s a very short drive to a critical part of the invasion called Pointe du Hoc where American rangers somehow scaled the steep cliffs. Many were only boys in their late teens and early twenties…oh, the courage! This was easily the most defensible piece of coastline for the Germans because of the cliffs, and without success here, the Allied forces would not have been nearly as successful in gaining control of the 50-mile-long stretch of beach. We were mesmerized by the still massive indentations in the ground from the bombs which were dropped, the German bunkers which you can roam around in, and the breath-taking view. It is a place where every American should visit if they are able. This was Bernie’s and my third trip, and I felt the sting of salty tears once again. It makes one very proud to be an American!
Our final stop was the American cemetery, and words don’t come adequately for this experience. Perhaps Andrew’s response to me when I asked him what his favorite part of the cemetery was, and he said, “NiNi, I couldn’t say that I have a favorite when I look at all the graves. Maybe it was the most moving thing I’ve ever seen, especially the graves that are unmarked with ‘Known only to God.'” There are 33 sets of brothers buried side by side, one father and son, and an uncle and nephew. The Jewish grave sites were marked with the Star of David. And we found some from Alabama.
Working as a team, using both Nancy’s and Chris’ phone navigation systems, we somehow made it back to the Hertz Rental Center, with a few funny twists and turns. Kudos again to Bernie who did a magnificent job.
Today will be 95 degrees. Think we are doing laundry and trying to stay cool.
L & B
P.S. These photos are compliments of everyone’s devices, phones and cameras.