In October 2013, I had the privilege of paying my respects at many of the D-day sites and memorials in Normandy. It was only by being there that I could begin to appreciate the scale, audacity, and horror of that fateful enterprise. Standing on hallowed ground where so many gave so much was beyond sobering. The experience filled me with the most intense gratitude and profound humility… and moved me to tears on several occasions. I hope that this photo essay does justice to these sentiments, as it recognizes and remembers the uncommon courage and ultimate sacrifice of those who fought there.
Note: Before viewing the photographs, please take two minutes to read a particularly moving excerpt from Ernie’s War.
Arromanches. Code named Gold Beach, and home to the artificial harbor christened Port Winston, remnants of which remain to this day.
The Arromanche360 museum immerses you in the chaos and horror of the invasion in sound and image.
The German Gun Batteries at Long Sur Mer are battle-scarred, but remain largely intact.
Imagine the disbelief and terror of the German soldiers seeing the approaching Armada of thousands on the horizon on the morning of June 6, 1944.
Many of the artifacts enable an intimate, hands-on experience.
The church steeple and memorial to paratrooper John Steele in Saint Mere Eglise.
Each site has a memorial museum that preserves the history of, and houses important artifacts from, the invasion.
The gut-wrenching, first-hand accounts of the veterans are particularly worth your time and attention.
Point du Hoc where Army Rangers scaled the treacherous cliffs to overtake the German heavy guns.
Paying my respects at Omaha Beach.
American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer…
The British Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux…
A nineteen year old atheist.
I could not keep my eyes dry in the presence of the love and comraderie expressed in the wish of this bomber crew to be buried together.
A lone Muslim grave.
Polish soldiers and those of other nationalities also played an important part in the liberation of Europe.
The German Cemetery at La Cambe…
… a reminder that there were victims on both sides of the conflict.
Artifacts from the D-day invasion (German flag for marking land mines, British razor, unopened American bandage, Canadian machine gun shell casing, dog tag from a German killed in action, and sand from Omaha beach)