In October 2013, I had the privilege of paying my respects at many of the D-day sites and memorials in Normandy, France. It was only by being there that I began to appreciate the scale, audacity, and horror of that fateful enterprise launched on the morning of June 6, 1944.
- The church steeple and memorial to paratrooper John Steele in Saint Mere Eglise.
- 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 Longues Sur Mer are battle-scarred, but remain largely intact. Enter a bunker and imagine the disbelief and terror of the German soldiers seeing the approaching Armada.
- Point du Hoc. Where American Army Rangers scaled the treacherous cliffs under fire to overtake the German heavy guns.
- The American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer. Countless crosses and stars of David, many nameless.
- The British Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux. make sure to read the inscriptions.
- The German Cemetery at La Cambe. A reminder that there were victims on both sides of the conflict.
- Omaha Beach. Walk the beach and visit the memorial museum which 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.
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.
Before viewing the photographs below, please take two minutes to read a particularly moving excerpt from Ernie’s War.