D-Day Beaches

Trip Start Jan 19, 2007
Trip End Jul 03, 2007

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, July 1, 2007

(S): The D-Day Beaches was our last stop on our 5 month long Great Escape. I had looked forward to this the entire time.

My Pop, Milton Zimmer, was in the Army Signal Corps during WWII. On June 6, he landed on Omaha Beach, in the second wave of the attack. His boat was grounded, sideways, on a sandbar for part of the day. No one from his boat could get off right away, which proved to be lucky for him - and my family. He said the waves were red with blood and it was the worst thing he had ever seen. He survived and went on to become a German language interpretor and helped liberate Buchenwald concentration camp a year later.

63 years later, I stepped foot on the same beach he landed on. I was surprised by a few things. First, I couldn't believe how beautiful this beach is. It was intermittently rainy and sunny throughout the day, which added to the dramatic effect of the place. Secondly, this is a public beach. We saw picnickers, walkers, folks taking their dogs for a walk, swimmers (burrrr!), kite fliers, and crabbers. Hard to believe that over a half century ago, these waves were red with blood and our boys lay scattered on this beautiful soft sand.

We arrived at the Normandy American Cemetery in the mid-afternoon and took a quiet stroll around the grounds. A downpour soon ensued. After taking shelter under a tree, we made our way towards the beach. Just out of sight of the cemetery, I heard the first strains of our National Anthem being played. Running back up the steps to the cemetery, I saw the American flag being retired and from every corner of the cemetery, people stopping, turning to the flag, and putting their hands over their hearts. In the middle of France.

In our pictures, you'll notice smiles. But my smile belies the truth. In actuality, I was completely emotionally overcome throughout our visit that afternoon. Thinking of all those boys, my grandpa, who couldn't have been much older than 18 or 19 coming to such a foreign place and the terrible things that happened here, kept me near tears all day. That and on the drive back to Paris that afternoon, we saw many people of Normandy still remember June 6 and what the United States did that day. Many homes fly the Stars and Stripes outside their homes.

We left Omaha Beach and drove further south to Pointe du Hoc. As you can see in our photos, we were alone here that afternoon. It only added to the surreal atmosphere and the absolute beauty.
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