Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day: 70th Anniversary

Juno Beach, France
I realize this is a bit off-topic for a fiber-related blog. But ever since my husband and I spent 3 weeks in France back in 2003, touring historic WW1 and WW2 battle sites, D-Day has had extra meaning to me.

It truly was the trip of a lifetime. We both studied history in university, with a focus on 20th century events.  We began our trip by heading north out of Paris, then north-west to Dunkirk, Dieppe and south down the coast to Le Havre.

We timed it so that we arrived in Caen on June 3rd. We spent the day of the 3rd visiting some of the D-Day beaches, with a focus on Juno Beach, where the Canadian troops landed. It was also the day before the grand opening of the Juno Beach Center, the Canadian museum honoring the troops who served.
D-day beach, France

By chance, we arrived in time to witness parts of the rehearsal for the opening ceremony for the next day. We were also fortunate enough to snap a photo of the donor plaque with our name on it, as we'd pledged a donation to support the building of the Juno Beach Center.

Words can't convey the experience of being there. Standing witness to the sights, sounds and emotions and trying to imagine what it like all those decades ago when young men served their countries, sacrificing themselves for a larger goal.

D-day beach, France
What also made an impression, was all the Canadian, American and British flags being flown in towns and villages across the country-side. The locals are still truly grateful for the sacrifices made and show their appreciation by commemorating these historic events. 

Ceremony marking D-Day in a village by one of the beaches

Each year, in Sainte-Mère-Église they
re-enact the paratrooper who got caught on the church spire. The paratrooper hung there for hours, pretending to be dead before being captured by German troops. There's actually a mannequin attached to the parachute.
Parade on D-Day in villages near one of the beaches.

One of the bunkers on the beach. I can't imagine attempting to land and attack here.
View from inside the bunker.

Pegasus bridge: a key objective in the early hours of the invasion.

Juno Beach

Preparing for the Juno Beach Centre, opening ceremonies.

Rehearsing: Juno Beach Centre, opening ceremonies

Many veterans attended.

As well as those currently serving. (current at time of our visit - 2003)

Memorial/Donor plaques


Paying tribute.
To the beach.

Utah Beach.

Utah Beach.


To the Allied troops who liberated Europe.

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