Thursday, November 11, 2010
It's only fitting on this Veteran's Day that I show you photos from Normandy where the D-Day landing happened on June 6, 1944. It was a sad part of the France trip but an important place to visit. I learned a lot of things about D-Day that I had never heard in history class.
First we went to the museum pictured. There we watched a black and white film shot in England and France of the preparation for the landing and the landing itself. Seeing all those young, hopeful faces on the screen and then visiting the cemetery where many of them are buried was very sad. Families had their choice of burial in France or having the body shipped home. If they chose France, the U.S. government brought the family over to see the final resting place of their loved one. Crosses and Stars of David mark the graves; there are many who are unknown.
What I didn't know is that prior to D-Day the Germans destroyed the only deep water port in the area: Cherbourg, France. Therefore, the Americans and British knew they would have to build a deep water port in record time so they could supply the troops who were landing. Much of this preparation started a year earlier on the south coast of England. The big metal things resting on the beach were made in England and then floated to the coast of France after the landing. The first breakwater was made up of old ships that were sailed to the area from England and then sunk in a line. Two subsequent breakwaters were made up of the big metal things fashioned in England. Within a matter of weeks, the port of was operating. Workers in England were not told what they were making or how it would be used.
The Germans did other nasty things to foil the American and British operation. They knew that something was going to happen so they destroyed as many things as possible. They also flooded an area where they thought paratroopers might land; many of them drowned because of this.
My mother's brother, Leo, was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. He's the only relative I know of who was lost in World War II. When his mother (my grandmother) was alive we would go to the National Cemetery in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. We put flowers on his grave, and my grandma cried. It didn't matter that he had been dead a long time; she still grieved for her only son. He died just before I was born.
So many families have sacrificed loved ones to the God of War only to find out that we will still have another war. No one ever wins; we just move on to the next quarrel with a country. Quarrels escalate and people die. What a shame.