The D-day beach

April 13, 2012 § 14 Comments

A short walk leading up to the Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. May 25, 2010.

Beaches rarely comes up on my travel itinerary. However when we were driving back from the Normandy back to Paris, we decided to make a detour and stopped by the Omaha Beach. This isn’t your usual beach destination with bikinis and pina colada, in fact you wouldn’t even see anyone taking a dip. This stunning coast was the place where the U.S. Army landed on the German-occupied France, and fought the hard way through. It was one of the D-Day landing site.

Yes, we are talking about the Second World War again. I’m no expert in the different stages of the war and invasion, but I know this place was the turning moment of the war. Now the French lend this part of the soil to the American, tax free. There was a museum about the war, and the American cemetery. Everything was managed by the American, even when we entered the museum, we revere greeted by the familiar security check in the U.S. style. We watched a documentary film and saw some of the things that they used during the operation. My heart was tied like a knot when going through a few personal items that belonged to the troopers. There was even an English-French phrase book that taught the soldiers to communicate with other allied soldiers on basic things.

A path outside the museum would led us down to the Omaha Beach. It was a 10 mins walk through a tree lined path before reaching the beach front. It was a gorgeous and peaceful sight. You just couldn’t ignore the thought of how many lives were lost right here, and fought hard over these sand for what we have today. Pictures and movies about the war kept popping up in my head while I was walking barefoot along the beach. I could hardly believe this charming place was heavily guarded with lots of death traps.

There was nothing else besides the sand and the rocks. Love how the hill in the background faded at the end. Looking east on Omaha Beach, France. May 25, 2010.

Looking west, thinking of what happened right here on Omaha Beach. This is where I picked up two rocks to bring home with me. May 25, 2010.

Then we walked over to the American Cemetery. I’ve seen perfectly lined white crosses a few times in movies and photographs. However, standing right in front of them was a different story. I felt so humble to be here. This place tells a story of how valuable Freedom is and remind us to appreciate lives around us. All these are so beautiful and worth fighting for.

A view of 9381 gravestones at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. May 25, 2010.

A peaceful view from the other side of the cemetery. Normandy, France. May 25, 2010.

At the memorial, a wall to ceiling map detailed the Operation Neptune and where the Allied landed on Normandy in 5 different beaches along the coast. May 25, 2010.

Another map shows the "Military Operation in Western Europe, 6 June 1944 through 8 May 1945". May 25, 2010.

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§ 14 Responses to The D-day beach

  • Deano says:

    Nice photos. I plan to visit there soon and also World War One cemeteries where I unfortunately have relatives buried. They left Australia as young men never to return from half a world away….

    • Katharine says:

      This one is a very special place to visit, I hope you get to spend more time there than I did.
      I’m sorry to hear about your relatives. Speaking of WWI, I’m surprised that I know very little about it, and don’t think I’ve visited and specific memorials or cemetery for WWI. shame.

      • Deano says:

        A long time ago, but something that should never be forgotten. I am a history buff so it is something I have always been interested in. It is good you have seen these places though 🙂

  • Joe McNamara says:

    The D-Day landings started on the 6th June 1944 and it was the biggest ever overseas land invasion in history. The idea was to hit the Axis forces with everything from the West when they were retreating from the East after two long Russia winters. If you like a bit of WW2 history, Eastern Europe is the best place to visit as most of the fighting took place there in truth. Stalingrad (Russia) and Warsaw bore the brunt of some brutal battles between the Soviets and the Nazis. Also, Auschwitz-Birkenau is the biggest concentration camp where the extermination of European Jews and Gypsies took place – that’s just outside Krakow which is a beautiful city to visit itself! 🙂

    Love your blog – thought I’d help out with the history seeing as I have a degree in it!

    • Katharine says:

      U have a friend from Poland, and it is sad whenever she talks about how much her country suffered through wars. and I do intend to visit Krakow one day, it looks sooooo beautiful. I need to travel to the eastern europe more often. When I was in Berlin, I actually thought of heading over to one of the concentration camp nearby, but change of thought, would visit Auschwits when I visit Poland in the future.

      And thanks for the information. I love learning history (outside of classroom) and putting the story together.

  • andy1076 says:

    I hope to visit there sometime in the future, so much history and so much to learn about how we’ve come since.

  • Good post – I enjoyed reading it!

  • Arjan Tupan says:

    Great post again, Kath. The beaches and WW2 related history of Normandy are impressive. I’ve been there a few times. One time, I stumbled upon a German war cemetery. That was also very impressive. Looking at the ages of the young Germans on the headstones, you realize that all blood shed there was from young guys, doing what they were told.

    • Katharine says:

      I don’t know if that’s just me… but it feels very very different to visit an American war cemetery than a German one… you know, visiting the Allied who fought hard in the name of peace and won at the end…. it is different….. and interesting thing is that German War Cemetery never came up in my travel guides or search result…

      but yes, it is crazy and sad to see young people died because they were told to do things that is someone else’s vision/dream. The young people hadn’t even live their lives and already perished. They probably didn’t even fully understand the whole picture.

      • Arjan Tupan says:

        Exactly. And walking onto that cemetery was a real eye-opener for me. I believe many of the German soldiers didn’t have much of a choice. Not fighting in the army, would probably have meant certain death in some military prison or camp…

        Anyway, Normandy is impressive.

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