My husband and I were traveling from Paris to the area of Mont Saint Michel in Western France. We set out by car,me organized with my navigation plans fully planned out. My husband noted that we would be driving through the Normandy area. Thinking it was a site not to be missed he wanted to take a “quick” detour. I had carefully planned out our route and this was going to throw off my plans significantly which immediately set off my anxiety button. But, instinctively, I knew he was right. We headed for the Juno and Utah beach areas closest to our previously planned route. And, I am so grateful we did, despite my fear of missing out on anything at Mont Saint Michel.
It was an honor to visit the area and a few local museums. The museums were naturally filled with veterans of the war on both sides with honors going to all countries who participated. How meaningful and moving it must be to come back to the location of the invasion so many years later with one’s children and grand children in tow. It is really easy to see the area on PBS specials, movies, and books. It is all very real and very breathtaking standing on the beach and seeing shells of tanks, giant metal obstructions placed in the water to impede boats from coming on shore, and cement bunkers still standing in place.
I was particularly impressed with an art installation on Juno Beach at the Canadian Juno Beach Center representing the soldiers who fought and who were lost. I was also equally impressed and shocked to see how far soldiers had to make it from the beach to their varying assignments if they were fortunate enough to survive. It is a testimate to the bravery of these soldiers no doubt.
It was a humbling and beautiful experience to visit and I am grateful my husband insisted we go. Sometimes, the unplanned moments on a trip become the highlight.
For more information on the Normandy invasion click here.