the normandy american cemetery and memorial

Sunday, July 2, 2006:  We have breakfast outdoors in the hot sun at the Manoir.  It is actually miserable in the sun, but we don’t want to complain, so we simply sweat profusely as we eat: granola, yogurt with blackberries, boiled eggs, croissants with lemon curd, and coffee.  We try conversing with another couple from the D.C. area, but they don’t seem open to chatting.  We leave them alone to enjoy their meal in peace.

Today, Mike and I leave the boys behind in the Pigeonnier to watch videos while we visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.  It’s situated on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The 172-acre cemetery contains the graves of 9,387 of American military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified (American Battle Monuments Commission: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial).

the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The cemetery sits on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 (Wikipedia: Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial).

The verdant grass juxtaposed against the marble crosses, along with the cemetery’s manicured trees and shrubs, makes for a lovely setting.  It’s incredibly sad to think of all the young men who gave up their lives for the greater good.  The sheer number of crosses is enough to take my breath away.  The setting, high on a hilltop overlooking the English Channel, renders it a perfect resting place for those noble young men who fought hard and won the battle, but lost their lives.

view of the English channel from the the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
view of the English channel from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
me at thethe Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
me at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Mike at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Mike at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

I have packed a bathing suit, sunscreen and beach towel, and at the cemetery I see a lovely beach down below.  I decide on a whim to have Mike leave me at the beach at St. Laurent while he and the boys go to La Grignotiere for Sunday lunch.  I want some time alone because everyone is getting on my nerves and I want some beach time.  Besides, the thought of sitting in that stuffy restaurant doesn’t appeal to me.  I spend about 3 1/2 hours alone on the beach, having a gruyere buerre sandwich and a Coke Light on the sand.  It’s just the break I need.

Back at the Manoir, I go for a three-mile run; it’s a hot and miserable undertaking.

For dinner, we go back to Bayeaux and eat once again at Le Florentin.  We end up here mainly because none of us can agree on anything else.  The waitress gets upset because Mike and I want to share a pizza; she says in a restaurant one person must have one plate.  I protest: “But I can’t eat a whole pizza myself!”  She finally lets Mike order a green salad and we share a delicious pizza with andouille sausage, apples and lots of cheese.  We have glaces for dessert.

me in front of a cathedral
me in front of a cathedral
in the village
in the village

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