This is Omaha Beach, on the north coast of France. It is the place where the allied forces landed to invade mainland Europe to end WW2. France was controlled by the Germans at that time, and no one expected them to land here. This coastline is known for its extreme tides so it was very difficult to plan around. The Germans had put up big metal jack-looking type things across the whole coastline, making it impossible for anyone to land on shore. So instead, ranger troops had to invade the beach by foot. They scaled the steep rocks and took over the German forces. There were thousands of casualties on both sides in the span of just a few days. It all began around 4 am on June 6, 1944.
I've always been a big fan of WW2 books, as has Greg. When we were planning our visit to Europe, visiting Omaha Beach was definitely a priority for Greg. We love America and love its history, so this seemed like a great visit for us to more fully understand the magnitude of this battle.
In anticipation of our visit, we did a lot of research. We talked friends who had visited this area, read a lot online, and watched several movies. I'm really glad that we took the time to find out as much as we could so that when we went, we were very familiar with the area and terrain.
The first night we arrived in Normandy, we went and checked into our rental, set down our bags and headed to the beach. As we drove up, the feeling of the space hit me very strong. We both sat in the parking lot overseeing the beach and just cried for a bit. It was a very special time and I truly felt like I could feel the spirits of those who had past on. I saw the American flag waving on the beach and I felt overcome with gratitude for the free country that is mine.
We were finally able to get up and out of the car. We walked around and viewed the National Guard monument. The tide was very high and it was crashing the breakers. It was windy and grey and cold. We walked out on to the pier that went out quite far. It's about as far as I assume the rangers had been dropped out of their boats to proceed by foot.
The next day we came back, a bit more composed and prepared for the feelings we would have. It was September 11th when we visited. We felt so grateful to be standing on this hallowed ground, a place where thousands of Americans gave their lives to protect freedom.