Visiting Normandy and its WWII sites were both humbling and unforgettable, as an American and a human being. The overwhelming feeling of stillness and solemnness while walking through the American cemetery and the bomb craters at Pont du Hoc was unnerving.
I am far from considering myself knowledgeable in World War II history, although I have been to a large number of significant sites during my travels. Every location that I have visited was moving and saddened me, and the WWII locations of Normandy were no different.
The Battle of Normandy was a significant turning point against Nazi forces in Northern France, and remnants of its battle are still remaining today. There are several memorials and monuments throughout the area to visit, as a remembrance of those who fought and died in Operation D-Day- The Invasion of Normandy.
Pointe du Hoc
La Pointe du Hoc is a cliff overlooking the English Channel along the northwestern coast of Normandy. It was a German fortified area with bunkers, machine gun posts, concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day the Provisional Rangers of the United States Army scaled the cliffs and captured Pointe du Hoc.
Today, Pointe du Hoc is a memorial and museum dedicated to the battle of Normandy. There are several of the original fortifications remaining, as well a number of bomb craters that have dramatically changed the landscape. In 1979, this field was transferred to American control and the American Battle Monuments Commission was made responsible for its maintenance.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial honors the American troops who died in Europe during WWII. The cemetery was dedicated in 1956 and is the most visited cemetery run by the American Battle Monuments Commission, with 1,000,000 visitors a year.
The memorial houses a bronze statue in the center, Spirit of American Youth Rising, as well as two flag poles that visitors gather around to watch the American flags being lowered and folded. It also includes details and maps of the Normandy landings, with military operations that followed.
Omaha Beach was the location of the largest of the D-Day assault areas, with the Americans leading the invasions on both Utah and Omaha Beaches. Omaha turned out to be an ‘epic human tragedy’ and quickly dove into utter chaos. Allied intelligence miscalculated the level of German defense and German gunners rained deadly crossfire onto the ranks of invading troops, as well as the waters being heavily mined. Omaha was literally a killing zone.
There ae no exact figures of Omaha Beach casualties, but there are estimates of about 3,000 casualties out of the 43,250 men who landed on Omaha on the first day, which was far more than any other beach invasion.
Les Braves (The Braves) memorial stands on Omaha Beach today, which consists of three elements- The wings of Hope – Rise, Freedom! – The Wings of Fraternity.
Comment of the sculpteur:
I created this sculpture to honour the courage of these men:
Sons, husbands and fathers, who endangered and often sacrificed their lives in the hope of freeing the French people.
Memorial de Caen
The Mémorial de Caen in Caen, Normandy is a war memorial and museum that commemorates WWII and the Battle of Caen. The museum is dedicated to the history of the 20th century and the fragility of peace, with the intention “pay a tribute to the martyred city of the liberation” but also to tell, “what was the terrible story of the 20th century in a spirit of reconciliation”.
They fight not for the lust of conquest. The find to end conquest. The fight to liberate. -President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s official address announcing the invasion.
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