(Originally posted June 6, 2014)
Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy’s coast, beginning the end of the Nazi hold on France and World War ll. Thousands of lives were lost that day, and the world saw what heroes were made of, what sacrifice and courage look like and the cost of freedom. They truly were a great generation.
“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…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle…let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
I had the opportunity to be in Normandy on the 60th anniversary with my family and it was, of course, an incredible experience. I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of that trip (back in the days of my first Canon film ;).
We were in the towns of Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux, as we headed to what was known on D-Day as Gold Beach (where British landed). Since it was so chaotic (understandably), we ended up teaming up with a few American tourists, a French guy visiting from another part of the state and two other French men who lived in Normandy. We were a rag tag team finding our way through northern France and I remember when we were thanking one of the French men (he pulled up on his bike with a baguette in the front basket – I jest not ;)) for going to get his car to drive us, he said no thanks was necessary, “It is because of America, we are free!” The perfect statement for that day!
It as such a life-changing trip and I really want to go back to Europe after going through all my old pictures! Are any of you WWII history buffs? Or how about family stories? I’d love to hear them!
Here’s the words from the poem as well:
I’m writing to say “Thank You,” and through me, there are thousands of children speaking to thousands of Veterans.
Like us, you were young and carefree, but when you were only twenty years old, Liberty called – called you to say:
“I’m dying, come and save me!”
And you arose, full of courage and zeal, to answer that call.
You underwent training, day after day, for “D” Day, and one day in June, you arrived by air and sea.
And you fought with the heart and soul of a free man, so that we, too, might be free.
You saw your fellows fall on our beaches and in our fields and, in spite of your grief and your injuries, you stayed on and fought side-by-side with us.
And so, dear Veteran, I want to tell you, regarding those dear to you who sacrificed their youth and are now resting in peace, the sleep of the just, that,
WE ARE CHILDREN THEY NEVER HAD.
And to you, dear Veteran, who offered your bravery and your most promising years for this our land, I say to you,
WE ARE YOUR SONS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY,
who want to say to you today,
a heartfelt THANK YOU!
Other D-Day related posts:
D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour – and Giveaway! (A tour of WWII inspired fiction)
The Guardian’s Interactive D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now
The real lessons of D-Day