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 Posted:   Jun 6, 2014 - 5:25 PM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)

Back in July of 1984 I was fortunate enough to spend 2 full weeks in France. I wish I could say it was in observance of the 40th anniversary of D-Day but I would not be telling the truth. For one thing, I was a month late and the only thing on my mind was shopping along the Champs-Élysées, a trip to Monet's gardens in Giverny and a hike up La Tour Eiffel. However, something changed when I arrived. Having a brother-in-law who served in WWII, I was mildly curious about a trip to Normandy. I had visted Hawaii 9 years prior and was brought to my knees with emotion after visiting the USS Arizona Memorial and the Punchbowl National Cemetery. I suddenly found myself seeking arrnagments for a trip to Normandy. I was able to join a small tour group the very next day and all I can say is that I consider myself lucky beyond measure to have been able to visit the beaches at Normandy. I was again brought to my knees with emotion as I viewed the row upon row of crosses. The emotion was mixed with gratitude and pride at what my country and our allies had sacrificed and saved.

It was on that trip that I began my intense interest in World War II. Each movie I watch, each book I read and each score I listen to that involves WWII is done so with reverence and gratitude. I look back on the trip that I took in 1984 and the ONLY thing I recall is the trip that I made to the hallowed grounds of Normandy. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to say thank you.

 
 Posted:   Jun 6, 2014 - 5:57 PM   
 By:   Adam B.   (Member)

Good story. Thank you for sharing. Imagine the courage of those men knowing that at any second their bodies could be cut to ribbons with machine gun fire. Real heros, those men.

 
 Posted:   Jun 6, 2014 - 8:02 PM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)

Good story. Thank you for sharing. Imagine the courage of those men knowing that at any second their bodies could be cut to ribbons with machine gun fire. Real heros, those men.

You are very welcome. I actually share this story quite often in person. It truly impacted me more than I realize.

 
 Posted:   Jun 6, 2014 - 8:56 PM   
 By:   gone   (Member)

Military cemeteries are humbling places. We lived near the American Cemetery in Manila last year and visited it several times. The number of crosses in the field and names on the monument walls gives one more than a little pause. And it is surely proper that WWII soldiers from both theaters of war be remembered. I haven't been to the beaches of Normandy, but would like to pay homage if I did.

 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 5:10 AM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)

Military cemeteries are humbling places. We lived near the American Cemetery in Manila last year and visited it several times. The number of crosses in the field and names on the monument walls gives one more than a little pause. And it is surely proper that WWII soldiers from both theaters of war be remembered. I haven't been to the beaches of Normandy, but would like to pay homage if I did.


They certainly are. I am so grateful that I have been able to visit these two hallowed places and express my gratitude. We have taken our children to Arlington and encouraged them to do the same. They recall those visits quite often.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

edw, this is the perfect time to write about your journey to Normandy. I hope to see Normandy some day. I think I would be emotionally overwhelmed. It is hard to grasp the huge sacrifice these men made, and it is too easy to let time distance us from their sacrifice. We need to remember. Thanks for sharing this.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 8:06 AM   
 By:   Timmer   (Member)

Considering my interest in all things WW II and how close I am to Normandy I can't make any excuses for not having visited yet.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 8:23 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

I was in Paris on business on 9/11, with my father (who is a WW2 vet) in tow that time. To have an event of that magnitude take place in your home country while abroad is a disorienting experience to say the least. The Parisians couldn't have been more wonderful to us Americans at that time. It was deeply moving. "Pompiers" were all around the city soliciting donations for the fallen New York firefighters.

All flights back to the USA were canceled for quite a while, so we had to extend our stay in France until we could go home. We decided to head north and explore Normandy and Brittany. Neither of us had been there. Before visiting the beaches we went to the D-Day museum in Caen, which presents an excellent audio-visual overview of the invasion as well as the monumental construction of temporary docks that could accommodate ships to supply more troops and supplies to the war effort.

When we arrived at the beaches there were American flags everywhere in the towns along the coast. We ate lunch at a small restaurant and an older couple, upon hearing us speaking English, asked us if we Americans. When we said yes there were tears in their eyes as they expressed their sorrow about what had just happened. When they learned my Dad was a WW2 vet they thanked him for everything (even though he served in the Pacific!).

We finally arrived at the cemetery and, as we were walking along the perfectly aligned tombstones, the emotions finally hit us and we dissolved in tears. I'm sure our feelings were magnified by our uncertainty about the future in light of the Twin Towers tragedy.

For those who haven't been there, I strongly advise you to visit the Caen museum first. It prepares you for the visit and allows you to see things at the beaches you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Also be prepared and not afraid to be emotional. Everyone else at the cemetery was just like us that day.

 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)

I was in Paris on business on 9/11, with my father (who is a WW2 vet) in tow that time. To have an event of that magnitude take place in your home country while abroad is a disorienting experience to say the least. The Parisians couldn't have been more wonderful to us Americans at that time. It was deeply moving. "Pompiers" were all around the city soliciting donations for the fallen New York firefighters.

All flights back to the USA were canceled for quite a while, so we had to extend our stay in France until we could go home. We decided to head north and explore Normandy and Brittany. Neither of us had been there. Before visiting the beaches we went to the D-Day museum in Caen, which presents an excellent audio-visual overview of the invasion as well as the monumental construction of temporary docks that could accommodate ships to supply more troops and supplies to the war effort.

When we arrived at the beaches there were American flags everywhere in the towns along the coast. We ate lunch at a small restaurant and an older couple, upon hearing us speaking English, asked us if we Americans. When we said yes there were tears in their eyes as they expressed their sorrow about what had just happened. When they learned my Dad was a WW2 vet they thanked him for everything (even though he served in the Pacific!).

We finally arrived at the cemetery and, as we were walking along the perfectly aligned tombstones, the emotions finally hit us and we dissolved in tears. I'm sure our feelings were magnified by our uncertainty about the future in light of the Twin Towers tragedy.

For those who haven't been there, I strongly advise you to visit the Caen museum first. It prepares you for the visit and allows you to see things at the beaches you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Also be prepared and not afraid to be emotional. Everyone else at the cemetery was just like us that day.


erik, what a beautiful and touching story. I would also like to thank your father for his service. I am sure the memory you have of sharing this visit with your father will be cherished by you forever.Thank you.

 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)

sorry - dp

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 12:31 PM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Considering my interest in all things WW II and how close I am to Normandy I can't make any excuses for not having visited yet.

Ditto - although I'm a little further, still no excuses. I'd love to work through the Netherlands as well in the path of Market Garden.

My mum went to Tunisia in her 70s to see where her big brother fell aged 21.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 1:35 PM   
 By:   Timmer   (Member)

That must have been very emotional TG. 21 years old? It beggers belief, we've barely started life at that age. What a sacrifice.

My Dad came from a family of five brothers and one sister ( all Catholic don't you know wink ), , they all fought in WW II and they all returned alive and intact, amazing really. My Dad saw a lot of action, first in North Africa and later as a Chindit in Burma fighting the Japanese, his back was covered in shrapnel wounds and he almost died of malaria, a comrade who was next to him had his head blown off amongst many horrors he witnessed. All the stories I got came from my Mum. Dad rarely talked about the war unless it was the light-hearted incidents, meeting General Montgomery, how great the Ghurkha's were, dealing with leaches, that kind of thing.

I'm lucky to be here.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 7, 2014 - 2:22 PM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

That must have been very emotional TG. 21 years old? It beggers belief, we've barely started life at that age. What a sacrifice.

My Dad came from a family of five brothers and one sister ( all Catholic don't you know wink ), , they all fought in WW II and they all returned alive and intact, amazing really. My Dad saw a lot of action, first in North Africa and later as a Chindit in Burma fighting the Japanese, his back was covered in shrapnel wounds and he almost died of malaria, a comrade who was next to him had his head blown off amongst many horrors he witnessed. All the stories I got came from my Mum. Dad rarely talked about the war unless it was the light-hearted incidents, meeting General Montgomery, how great the Ghurkha's were, dealing with leaches, that kind of thing.

I'm lucky to be here.



Respect to him. One of the worse arenas to have fought in.

Shortly after her brother was killed, my mum (11 years old at the time) and my grandmother went to watch the Pathe news at the Shaftesbury Picture House, Leeds, and actually saw Stanley marching in column in a newsreel. The manager cut one of the frames out of the reel and gave it to them. My mum has it still.

And we get annoyed when a website takes 15 seconds to load.

 
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