Normandy

The next day was spent visiting different World War II sites.  First stop was Arromanches, the site of Port Winston.  We had never heard of this before but it is really interesting and impressive.  When the British and Americans were planning the invasion on D-Day, they knew that they would need a way to bring in equipment, troops, and supplies once they had taken over the area.  So they made a plan to construct a harbor at Arromanches to be able to do so.  They built huge concrete caissons to use as breakwaters, bridges and piers.  They made everything in the U.K. and towed it across the English Channel to here.  They actually built another one near Omaha Beach but a storm destroyed in within a matter of days.  At Arromanches however, there are still some surviving structures and you can see the perimeter of the harbor they were able to construct.

Some surviving parts of the port, if you look on the horizon you can see where the perimeter was

This is a better picture from above the town and some of the remaining structures.

From wikipedia

There is a good little museum that outlines how the port was built and used during the war.  We were really surprised and interested to learn about it.

Next we went over to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.  This is the cemetery where around 10,000 american soldiers who fought in World War II are buried.  If you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan, it’s the place where the movie opens.  It sits on a piece of land overlooking Omaha Beach, where the americans invaded on D-Day.

Hard to imagine such a beautiful beach was the site of such a gruesome battle.
The amount of crosses is staggering.  They are beautiful but sobering at the same time.

The cemetery is free and has a small museum that is very helpful to understanding the war timeline and the D-Day invasion.  These kind of experiences are the painful reminders of what some people have given in order to serve our country.  It’s something important I think we should try to remember   Though this was almost 70 years ago, we still have people paying the ultimate sacrifice in serving the U.S.  Hopefully it is a reminder of how blessed you are to have the life that you do with your loved ones.