A Noble People

I am writing this on the 80th anniversary of D Day. I visited Normandy on the 70th anniversary. It is an experience that, if possible, every citizen should experience.

We left Germany and drove to France to the Normandy region and took up a short term residence in a guest house called La Ferme Aux Chats (translated it means The Cat Farm) in Formigny La Bataille, France which is a very short driving distance to the beaches in Normandy.

One of the wisest decisions we made before going was reading a travel guide by Rick Steves about traveling in Normandy.

He highly recommended hiring an English speaking guide for a private tour of the beaches and surrounding area where the landings took place and listed several names of persons who he could recommend.

While the man was not inexpensive, his knowledge was vast, and he took us to places to see sights related to the invasion that we never would have seen but for him.

Our tour with him was one and one half days and was incredibly informative.

There is so much to see and marvel about in Normandy. But it is so different than what is portrayed in so many movies.

The German pillboxes were not aligned so that they could fire at the ships approaching but instead were strategically placed at 45 degree angles to the ocean.

There would be one and then some distance down the beach another and the goal was to be able to catch invading soldiers in a cross fire between the two gun emplacements.

I learned that the land behind the beaches had been flooded by the Germans to such a depth that paratroopers who landed with their heavy packs would sink and drown.

The ocean had wooden stakes with points on top that were just below the surface of the water. The goal was to puncture the bottoms of the wooden landing craft of the Allies and the soldiers would drown.

But the most impressive site was looking at Pont du Hoc where United State Rangers, using ropes and ladders, climbed the 110 feet up a sheer cliff while under fire from the Germans. Eventually the soldiers were successful and took control of the land atop the cliffs.

There is a wonderful museum that needs to be explored giving a great history of the entire invasion.

But the two most moving things I observed at Normandy were:

1. The cemetery with row after row of crosses of the many persons who died during the invasion in the Normandy region.

2. A large picture at the museum of President Ronald Reagan when he spoke at one of the remembrance celebrations. It showed Reagan with his arm around a very elderly man who had his military uniform on, his medals on his chest, his face contorted in sorrow and tears streaming down his face as he listened to whatever words were being spoken to him by the President. Just looking at that picture brought tears to my eyes.

There is criticism around the world, as well as in the United States (particularly on university campuses) of the United States, that portrays us as an evil country.

We are a noble people. If you question that just spend a couple of days at the Normandy beaches and you will have a real awakening.