Sunday, June 8, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day

The title of army wife has taken a lot of getting used to.  I'm not sure that I have whatever you're supposed to have to be a good army wife and I'm not really sure what that even means- I steer clear of FRG stuff and I'm pretty clueless about the inner-workings of the military, and I'm perfectly happy that way. 

As clueless as I might be though, it doesn't mean that I don't know first-hand how much our soldiers and their families sacrifice.  It doesn't mean that I don't know first-hand that the army always comes first.  It also doesn't mean that I am not incredibly proud of my husband and the career he felt God had called him to serve.  And not being the ideal army wife doesn't mean that my appreciation for our soldiers and patriotism for our country is less than the woman who is the ideal army wife.  My appreciation to our service members, past & present, is more than I could ever describe- I am humbled at their sacrifice and my thanks could never show my true gratitude.  But, I assume that my appreciation pales in comparison to the appreciation a soldier has for their own comrade in arms.  I assume there is a connection between soldiers that is indescribable and something even as an army wife, I could never truly understand.  
Eric, Isabelle, and I spent our weekend in Normandy, France paying our respects to the hero's of our country.  We were united with thousands of people from France, England, Belgium, America, and Canada in our patriotism.... it was incredible. 

We took the 'Band of Brothers' Tour with Overlord Tours.  Also, we were taken to where parts of the 1962 movie, 'The Longest Day,' were portrayed- I can't even tell you how amazing this tour was!  Our guide, Dominique, did all of the work, all we had to do was sit back and relax.  Eric and I are huge fans of the 'Band of Brothers' series, going on this tour and seeing the places from the movie in person was emotional for the both of us.

Our first stop was the German artillery bunkers where the Germans were able to overlook all of the beaches along the coast of Normandy.  {This bunker is located directly above Omaha Beach}  Their artillery guns had a range of 15 miles.  15 miles.  

However, they had terrible aim, they didn't hit a single one of the Allies' ships on D-Day.  
There were reenactments of all sorts this weekend (I'll show you more as we go along), here there is a ship out in the water where they would have been 70 years ago.  

Our next stop was directly below the artillery bunkers onto Omaha Beach.  The weather was sorta crappy first thing in the morning.  It rained pretty hard off and on, but thankfully, only when we were in the tour bus driving.  During our time on Omaha Beach the weather started to clear and the rest of the day was gorgeous.

A C-47 flying over the beaches of Normandy, just like it would have 70 years ago.

A group of reenactors.

As morbid as it may sound, Eric and I tried to imagine what this beach looked like 70 years ago.  But what we found was that that is impossible.  What we saw on Saturday is so vastly opposite of what D-Day likely looked like, our brains could never truly imagine anything as horrific as what those soldiers experienced.  This beach was not eerie or even sad (at least not to us), it was peaceful... and beautiful.

We carried the peacefulness with us to the Normandy American Military Cemetery, next.

A British World War II Veteran. 

Men and women (but mostly men) of all ages dressed as soldiers from every branch of the military as they did in 1944.  The women dressed in 40's attire or nurse uniforms.  So cool!

9,387 soldiers are buried here.  There is no order to the burials- except brothers- brothers were buried next to each other whenever possible, including two of President Theodore Roosevelt's son's.

Point du Hoc is 8 miles west of the cemetery, it is the highest point between Omaha and Utah beaches.  On D-Day an American ranger battalion scaled the 100ft cliff and captured the point from Germany.  France dedicated this memorial in honor of the ranger battalion.

If you look closely, you can still see the bomb holes in the side of the cliff.   

Another group of reenactors.  This kid was adorable!

We stopped for lunch at Sainte-Mère-Église- this is where a lot of the movie 'The Longest Day' takes place.  Every town along the coast had their own celebration in honor of D-Day and this day Sainte-Mère-Église was jam packed full of motorcyclists and a concert!  We got brats and beer (sprite for Isabelle) for lunch and then headed over to the museum.

The Sainte-Mère-Église church is where a paratrooper who jumped on D-Day got caught on a spire.  He laid limp for 2 hours while the Germans killed other paratroopers below him- all he could do was watch.  Every year the town hangs a mannequin from the same exact spot on the church in memory of D-Day.  I'm not sure you can see it, I had my wide angle lens on my camera and couldn't zoom in any further.  But if you watch the movie you'll understand what I'm trying to explain.


The rest of the afternoon was spent in various places that the actual 'Band of Brothers' would have been shortly after landing on D-Day.  If you've never seen the movie you should!  

A memorial for plane 66 that crashed in the field just behind the hedgerow.  All men on this flight were killed and only one of the bodies was able to be identified.  In the movie this is the airplane where the fire rolls through the airplane and all men are being burned.  

Marmion's Farm- our tour guide said this is haunted.... and then Eric wanted to leave. 

Eric and Isabelle listening to Dominique explain the battle at Brecourt Manor led by LT Winters.  {I love the cows in the background, they made the tour even more authentic}

The last stop on our tour was at the small village, Angoville-au-Plain, where two medics set up a small aid station and saved the lives of 80 people- soldiers, civilians, Americans, Germans- whoever came needing care, they gave it.  These two medics were 18 and 19 years old with less than two weeks of training each.  They were honored by this small village but otherwise their story went unknown for many years.

Where a mortar came through and then bounced off the floor- no one was seriously hurt by this. 

Blood from the injured soldiers is still on the church pews 70 years later. 

My blog posts are only from my perspective, I never try to put words in anyone's mouth and I'm extremely careful of who and what I include here (especially my kiddo, I am insanely protective of her privacy).  But Eric is a soldier and a veteran.  He understands strategies and missions in a way that I never will.  He understands what it means to write a Last Will and Testament and good-bye letters to his family before he left for war, and that's a perspective that I feel needs to be mentioned.  His grandfather served in World War II as a navigator and died when Eric was just 4 years old.  Seeing where his grandfather served had a effect on him that I can't explain.  I think he felt connected to his grandfather, his comrade in arms, for just a bit these last few days.  My appreciation paled in comparison.  It was beautiful. 

.....In memory of all soldiers that served and died in World War II.....


  1. My oldest friend was killed in Afghanistan on the anniversary of D-Day three years ago, so the events of that day now strike me so much more than the did prior to 6/6/11. Thank you for sharing these photos and most of all, thank you to Eric for his service!

    1. I am so sorry for your loss! Thank you for supporting your friend's service, and thank you for reading!