Omaha Beach/Normandy France Military Cemeteries
Cemeteries Part 2
Of course, our visit to the American Cemetery in Normandy in Northern France was solemn and sacred with its 9,387 soldiers who fell in combat on Omaha Beach, or how the French had named the area years ago, Collesville-sur-Mer. The acres and acres of land depicted bright white crosses as far as the eye could see, with the English Channel in the background that gives any visitor to this land pause. This particular cemetery was dedicated in 1956, honoring the American Service members who died during Operation Overlord.
I hung my head and winced when glancing over the land of white crosses and the sea, trying to picture in my mind the thousands of young men jumping into the water from the ships and running to shore, only to be shot down by the Nazis perched high on the surrounding cliffs with mighty artillery to stop the “surprise” attack/invasion on this sleepy village on June 6, 1944.
The American Battle Monuments Commission manages 26 permanent cemeteries on foreign soil. It could take several days to visit them all. We were lucky on our visit this spring because the new visitor center opened in 2019, and few visitors came due to the pandemic in the last few years. I thought the newly built center was a must-see where the exhibitions play essential roles in providing visitors from all over the world context and emotional engagement to the incredible story of courage and sacrifice of the D-Day landings and the Normandy campaign.
The entire area and cemetery are impressive and profound, a land of liberty. If you are ever in France and interested in WW11 history, taking a tour out to the Normandy area would be an unforgettable day, like it was for us. Our tour took us to other little villages where fighting and strife occurred, sometimes joining forces with the British, Canadians, and Allied forces.
Once back in Paris, we did pass by several other cemeteries in France by foot and other means of transportation, but I/we did not get the chance to explore them. I’m sure there are many more ‘secret gardens’ to be discovered in Paris and the rest of France.