Solemn remembrance

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Normandy,
Friday, September 2, 2011

We woke up only to discover that a small number of items had been left at the previous hotel. Nevertheless we proceeded with the day. A nice breakfast in the hotel, even if it was preceded with Master X throwing a tantrum and spilling a glass of milk. As they say, don't cry over... (I know, I know)

We headed first to the Museum regarding the history of World War II in the Normandy area. Master X was extremely non-compliant so sadly Scott missed the film on the history of the D-day landing. I have always been fascinated with this facet of the war and I am ashamed to admit that my knowledge of the events is really not what it should be. The museum was exceptional, it was so well set out and had the commentary in engligh as well as french. The photos depicted such a clear example of what those times must have been like. This gave a realistic but sad account of all those people who lost their lives at that time.

After the museum, we walked up to the Bayeux War Cemetery which has some 5,000 graves. Each headstone is symetrically designed and has the insignia of the corps that the soldier served in neatly engraved into the stone. It was emotional to see all the graves, however somewhat sadder to see amongst them graves of unknown soldiers. Those men who lost their lives in the war fighting for their country but who could never be identified. It is nice to know that there is recognition for their valiant efforts and supreme sacrifice.

Once we had visited the museum we drove through the beautiful countryside to get to Omaha Beach, one of the D-day landing beaches. This beach had the deadliest fighting and the beach now is a peaceful haven, with a beautiful statue as a tribute to those who lost their lives, as well as those who didn't. Flags from several countries fly at the beach as a reminder of the joint effort of the allied troops.

A visit to the American cemetery was then in order. It was very popular and the car park was packed. The cemetery is the same one that is shown in the movie 'Saving Private Ryan'. A huge statue and monumbent greet you as you enter the cemetery, an amazing tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives. But nothing can prepare you for the crosses that lie before you, in rows covering a large grassy area, overlooking the sea. As Master X was asleep in the car, Scott and I took turns to visit the site. I have to confess that I had tears whilst walking through the graves. It is such a realistic reminder of so many people who lost their lives in the hope that I would one day have a better one.

The cemetery is extremelly well kept and certainly worth a visit.. We then continued driving up the coastline and ended up stopping at the National Guard Monument for lunch. There were still concrete bunkers in the vicinity which gave effect to the whole history of the area. A french hotdog, served of course in a baguette was quickly devoured before we moved to Pointe du hoc, a place with real craters from the bombings. It is nestled in the hills and the Germans manned a large gun here. They never believed that anyone could ever reach this place due to the terrain however the allies mounted an air and sea attack on the area and eventually won it over. The original concrete gun slab is there, along with a number of bomb craters. The view is spectacular out to sea and down the coastline however the terrain is rugged and it would have been such a difficult task to mount that attack.

Our history lesson ended there and we commenced our drive to Pontorson. It was an uneventful drive and we enjoyed the conversation and the scenery on the way. Upon arrival we took the opportunity to lap up some rays in the beer garden while Master X played with a toy lawn mower and encouraged another guest to go with him and pat the resident cat. Dinner was at a local pizza restaurant and it was definitely a fantastic meal. Even Master X enjoyed his pizza with his bacon (ham) and some ice-cream to wash it all down.

Instead of thank you and goodbye, our son has now developed a liking to merci and au voir. It is very cute and the french, especially the ladies, just think it is adorable!
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