We felt like it was important to go to the American Cemetery next to Omaha Beach. It’s only a two-hour train ride from Paris and a half-hour drive from the city Caen. When we reached Caen there was a car rental just across from the station so it was easy to go and pick up a car to drive to the coast.

Before reaching Omaha Beach we stopped for lunch in the small town of Bayeux, which is most known for the famous Bayeux Tapestry, however, we didn’t have enough time to visit the tapestry ourselves. We stopped for lunch in a cute little restaurant off the main road and walked around the little town for maybe five or ten minutes before moving on.

A House in Bayeux

The coolest part of the town was probably the church, which stood in the very center and was a massive structure of stone.

churchlarge

Church in Bayeux

To me Bayeux seemed like the typical French country town. The buildings were especially cute and small. The stone homes were plain and simple and the streets were quiet. Only the splashing of rain and cars disturbed the peace.

Muddy Water

A small river/creek that ran through the town.

Bayeux Creek

After driving through large swaths of country land, we arrived at the coast and a number of signs directed us towards the cemetery.

Omaha Beach was the code name given to the Normandy beach along the French coast during WW II. This particular beach was important because it was the only possible area where the Allies had any chance of liberating France from Hitler’s clutch. Omaha Beach was only one section of the Normandy Landings. There was also Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach.  The day that the Americans, British and Canadians landed on Normandy is known as D-Day (June 6th, 1944). It was a battle with heavy casualties, but resulted in victory for the Allies.

When we arrived at the parking lot there were only two other cars parked in the area and it was drizzling outside. It rained while we walked over to the memorial and cemetery. As we rounded the corner of the memorial the wind picked up, making the flags whip and snap in the gale.

Flags

Looking out from the memorial doesn’t even let the visitors see the entire cemetery. It goes even further back and I couldn’t believe how many white crosses stood vigilant on the green grass.

The memorial from the front.

American War Memorial

We walked towards the middle of the cemetery; the rain pouring down on us when suddenly the clouds began to clear and over the ocean was a rainbow. It was one of those serendipitous moments and I couldn’t have asked for beautiful weather while I paid my respects to the soldiers.

Rainbow

A Soldier's Grave

After rounding the cemetery we headed down to the beach. Just looking down the hill into thickets of leaves and bushes, it was made apparent just how much of a challenge the soldiers faced climbing from the beach with German artillery and gunfire blaring down on them.

Looking down onto the beach

The Path to the Beach

Uphill Battle

Once we began walking down the hill, I was even more impressed and horrified at the prospect of capturing that hill. The bushes were thick and dense, sometimes disappearing into darkness. As we neared the beach, we were met by a large section of swamp, whose water probably would have gone over my knees. To top all that off, shoulder high grass grew out of the water before reaching the dunes of sand. All I can say is that it is incredible that ANYONE even made it past the first sand dune.

The Beach of Normandy

It was a humbling day to see the things someone would go through for their freedom and for the freedom of people they had never even met face to face.

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