Travel Magazine

D-Day Memories

By Sedulia @Sedulia

Omaha Beach, June 2004, les Braves
Omaha Beach, June 6, 2004. This sculpture is called "The Brave."

My mother was an army nurse in World War II, rushed through training early and young starting in January 1942. For the sixtieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion, on June 6, 2004, she came to France for the commemoration ceremony at Omaha Beach.  We drove out to Normandy, she and I and one of the children, and as a veteran my mother was awarded a place in the first row as Jacques Chirac and George Bush spoke. It was a moving experience for me, sitting far back but seeing her silver hair in the distance and beyond her the actual D-Day vets sitting in a special section, almost all older than she was. The youngest ones are now in their mid-80s, but in 2004 there were still some peppy 76-year-olds.

82-year-old paratrooper

Keeping order were some handsome young sergeants, very proud of being assigned this prestigious duty. This 82-year-old paratrooper (with the beret), who had jumped on D-Day, was planning to jump again with his combat buddies later. He and the sergeant exchanged funny banter till they had a crowd around them. The old guy jeered at young one and said that when he was a soldier, men had to do hand-clap pushups (where you clap your hands together in the middle of the pushup). The young sergeant promptly dropped to the ground and did ten of them, then jumped up to receive his respect!

Seeing if the young measure up
 

I was sitting next to a public relations official from the Bush White House. She told me the White House was very worried about the old guys like my paratrooper who insisted on jumping again. What if one of them died? (The U.S. government denied them permission to jump as part of the ceremony; but the French allowed them to jump the next day.) My seat-neighbor had helped arrange the press credentials for this event. "We made the press badges pink!" she chuckled.

Veterans on D-Day + 60

For me the most moving part of the day came afterwards. The veterans found their way to the overlook where you can see Omaha Beach below. Many of the old men had never been back since fighting their way up the beach that day. There were many tears and lowered heads.

Later we visited the German cemetery. It is a somber place. At the entrance is a sign that says, "Remember that many who lie here did not choose this fight."

Chiotas-Flickr

Because I love Normandy and have been there many times, I know there is a huge Polish D-Day cemetery near Caen. Otherwise I would not even know that 10,000 free Poles fought in the Normandy invasion. Almost 700 of them lie in the quiet Grainville Polish military graveyard.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • A Day in the Delta

    Delta

    It wasn't until I moved here in 2003 that I visited the Delta de Tigre, although I had heard of it often, especially from my vacation landlady Maria Teresa. Read more

    By  Tangocherie
    CULTURE, DESTINATIONS, ENTERTAINMENT, TRAVEL
  • Lost in Hong Kong (DAY 4)

    Lost Hong Kong (DAY

    Included in this day: The Satellite Town of Sha Tin and the Journey to MacauthelostboylloydDay 4.1. The Satellite Town of Sha TinMarch 6, 2011Two mornings ago, ... Read more

    By  Thelostboylloyd
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION
  • Lost in Hong Kong (DAY 3)

    Lost Hong Kong (DAY

    Included in this day: The Peak Tram and the Peak Tower, Ocean Park, That Lucky Golden Ticket to Tim Ho Wan, and Central Nightlife Part 2Day 3.1. Read more

    By  Thelostboylloyd
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION
  • Lost in Hong Kong (DAY 2)

    Lost Hong Kong (DAY

    Included in this day: The Ping Shan Heritage Trail in the New Territories, A Walk Through Nathan Road and Thoughts on Hong Kong Democracy, Hong Kong Disneyland... Read more

    By  Thelostboylloyd
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION
  • Lost in Hong Kong (DAY 1)

    Lost Hong Kong (DAY

    As a preface to this long series of texts and photos, I'd like to ask for your understanding as I initially feature two international destinations. Read more

    By  Thelostboylloyd
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION
  • Day 1 in Kathmandu

    Kathmandu

    Arriving in Kathmandu is a jolt to the senses. Brilliant colors, throngs of people, endless unabating smog, constant honking and roads flooded with people,... Read more

    By  Leonoras
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION
  • Oranje Fever for Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

    Oranje Fever Queen’s Amsterdam

    Of all the European countries with a Queen, arguably none loves their monarch as much as the Dutch do.Celebrating the Queen’s birthday is a nationwide holiday i... Read more

    By  Amsterdam City Tours
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, VACATION

Magazine