Normandy Cemeteries

Omaha Beach is home to the Normandy American Cemetery. A new museum (2019?) displays an extremely impressive history of the D-Day invasion. It includes biographies of many of those who served and/or died here. Near the exit is a stark hall in which the names of the approximately 8,500 killed in the invasion are read out load in an endless loop. Moving. There was also a ”Wall of the Missing” listing those servicemen never found (probably in the sea, as many landing craft were lost).

There was a French and an American flag at every cross.
The memorial. This is the 78th anniversary of D-Day.
Wreaths from groups and individuals, both French and American.
A facsimile of a temporary grave on the beach. If you look closely, you may be able to see the mound of sand.
Omaha Beach in a more peaceful time.

The figure in the memorial is a ”Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” by Donald De Leu.

After the American Cemetery and the stop at Pointe du Hoc we visited the La Cambe German War Cemetery. This site started out as a cemetery for both German and American soldiers. The Americans were eventually moved to the US or to the American Cemetery.

The total grave count at La Cambe is 21,222. This is the largest cemetery in Normandy on a site only one-tenth the size of the American Cemetery. The large mound in the center of the plot represents the mothers and fathers who lost children in the war. The 1,120 Acer Globosum maple trees planted in the Peace Garden act as so many symbols of peace and reconciliation.

On the way back to Caen, Marilyn wanted to go by Saint Lo (or St Lo for you crossword puzzle fans). Both of the museums we visited noted the almost total destruction of the city (by the Allies primarily) in the days around D-Day. We were curious to see if the rebuilding were obvious. It is. We had confused it with Sainte-Mere-Eglise where the paratrooper landed on the church and hung from the steeple. They still have a mannequin hanging there. Eglise was also the first French mainland village liberated.

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