Visiting the D-Day Beaches — Omaha Beach

posted by Sharon September 15, 2019 19 Comments
Omaha Beach France

This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. It’s a fitting time to remember what took place here. Omaha Beach France

On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed along 60 miles of beaches to set in motion the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. There were five separate landings to Operation Overlord by American, British, and Canadian troops involving 160,000 soldiers. Code names for the 5 beaches are Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Here’s a map from HistoryExtra.com to give you a good idea of the beaches. D-Day-landing-beaches-map

I was able to travel to France on an amazing trip to visit all 5 of the beaches. For a history buff like me, this was an unforgettable experience. I would like to share with you about all 5 beaches, starting with Omaha. Omaha Beach France

 

The Most Difficult Beach

Omaha Beach FranceHistorians agree that the landing on the stretch of about 5 miles that is Omaha Beach was the most difficult of a day of unimaginable difficulties. Why? This beach turned out to have the largest number of German troops. Allied bombing runs failed to take out German strong points. The beach was riddled with mines and obstacles. Also, stormy weather and navigation issues led to men drowning before they could even reach the beach. Omaha Beach France

Those who gained the beach faced a fortified sea wall and high bluffs from where German artillery rained down on them. Omaha Beach France

The battle on Omaha was so severe that U.S. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley considered retreat back to England. But slowly and steadily men clawed through the sand and sprinted and ran into enemy fire, making it to the refuge of the seawall. By the end of this Day of Days, the Americans claimed a toehold of about 1.5 miles of France.

The Military Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer Omaha Beach France

The focus of a visit to Omaha Beach today is the peaceful cemetery that is the final resting place of almost 10,000 American soldiers who gave their lives in the battle for Normandy. Overlooking the beach, the rows of graves attest to the price paid for liberation in one small corner of the world. It’s overwhelming to walk here. Omaha Beach France

 

The sea of white crosses and stars extends every direction. It’s hard to look around at such loss of life. When you think how many of these lads were teenagers, transported across the English Channel in a rocky vessel, landing in a country where they had never set foot, and then their lives were cut short – it’s too much to comprehend. Omaha Beach France

Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceA look at the names — so many names — makes your experience here more personal. Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach France

 

The Flag Ceremony and Reflecting Pool

At the end of each day, the American flag flying here is lowered in a respectful ceremony. A reflecting pool is nearby. Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach France

You will notice a tall, dark sculpture called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” Also in this area are large maps of the battles of World War II. Omaha Beach France

Musée Mémorial d’Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach FranceA small, excellent museum is next to the cemetery. It offers displays of uniforms, military vehicles, and even objects of civilians caught in the battles. I found the teddy bear especially poignant. Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach France

There are also examples of the metal objects strewn on the beach by the Germans and known as “Rommel’s asparagus.” Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach France

I would allow about an hour to take in this museum. If your time is limited, see the outside cemetery and beach first. If time allows, end your visit at the museum.

The Monument of the Brave Omaha Beach France

At the far west end of Omaha Beach, in Vierville-sur-Mer, you’ll find an imposing sculpture called The Brave. The artist, Anilore Banon, said he created this to honor the courage of the men – sons, husbands, and fathers – who faced danger and often sacrificed themselves in the hope of freeing the French people. These “wings of hope” remind us all to stand strong for freedom and to speak up against all forms of inhumanity. Omaha Beach France

When You Visit

If you go to Normandy, you can walk on these beaches and try to imagine the events of June 1944. You can feel the sand between your toes, the waves lap at your feet. Around you, children will be playing, families will be out for a stroll, enjoying the sun and the sea. We are all living a life of freedom now, and it’s only right to remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion to make this possible. Omaha Beach France

Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach France

Omaha Beach FranceOmaha Beach FranceLinking up with Image-in-ing, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, Wanderful Wednesday, Feet Do Travel, My Corner of the World, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

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19 Comments

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William Kendall September 15, 2019 at 9:39 am

Terrific shots! I would like to see Normandy for myself someday.

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Tamar A Strauss-Benjamin September 15, 2019 at 1:59 pm

They turned a place of such bloodshot and terror into a peaceful place of tribute.

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Carol September 16, 2019 at 6:11 am

I’m so envious – I’d love to take that trip to the beaches. Beautiful post as usual!

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Cathy Keller September 16, 2019 at 7:02 am

What lovely photos! When we were there it was in early March and the flowers were not in bloom. They were pruning the trees and the wind was blowing. Your photos bring back wonderful memories of our trip there! Thank you!

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Eileen September 16, 2019 at 10:18 am

Hello, there so much history in this spot and beach. I think one of my uncles was in that area during the war. The memorial is beautiful and the crosses are a sad sight. I am always sorry to hear of lives lost in a war. Enjoy your day, happy new week ahead!

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Fun60 September 16, 2019 at 10:19 am

A moving post. There was no sunshine forthe men thatday.

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Lydia C. Lee September 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I’ve heard Bayeux is wonderful. I didn’t realise they renamed the beaches. All those graves. Such a waste. And still we don’t learn

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Photo Cache September 16, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Beautiful photos.

Worth a Thousand Words

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junieper2/Jesh StG September 16, 2019 at 1:43 pm

What a great tribute you gave to this post, Sharon to all these hundreds who barely started adult life and gave this sacrifice for our freedom. Also love the sculptures and the reflective pool – the latter is stunning! Not to mention all these wonderful angles of the crosses. May you be blessed for your sensitivity to honor the sacrifices of uncountable lives, we should not forget. Already 75 years, and then I thought – of course, hubby was born in the “hungerwinter” they called it in Holland -. and no wonder he is underweight (it’s the first year of life when the fat cells are formed), and how it must have been a huge challenge at that time to feed a baby, when there was hardly any food! Many thanks for this historic post for All Seasons, Sharon! Have a beautiful week!

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Marilyn Tjaden September 16, 2019 at 4:38 pm

Oh Sharon, your wonderful account was so readable for me! I could feel everything about your words and experiences. I’m so touched by your words! Awesome!
Love you!

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Lady Fi September 17, 2019 at 7:16 pm

What a moving and lovely post.

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betty - NZ September 17, 2019 at 10:39 pm

Such an emotional place. The memorials are so well kept and definitely respected. Thanks for sharing your experience, information and photos.

I appreciate your link on ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!

My Corner of the World

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Allison September 19, 2019 at 2:51 am

Visiting the D-Day beaches at Normandy is on my bucket list. #wanderfulwednesday

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Rhonda Albom September 19, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Great photos of the area. Amazing what horrors those serene beaches belie from 75 years ago.

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Alex - My Life Long Holiday September 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Sobering. We were actually in Bayeaux this summer and I hadn’t even given the D-day beaches a thought until I got to Bayeaux (we were there for the tapestry – a whole other historical war!) but it struck me that we really must return to see more. Your post has been very helpful. ‘#farawayflies

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Pauline September 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Like Alex I was in Bayeaux primarily to see the tapestry but was so touched by the D-day beaches and the war graves at Bayeaux. Being there is not something one forgets. I am moved again by reading your post. Thank you.

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beatravelling September 21, 2019 at 12:19 am

Did this area a long time ago. Stayed in Ouistreham. Interesting, beautiful and impressive at the same time. #farawayfiles

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Corey | Fifi + Hop September 23, 2019 at 4:32 pm

I visited Normandy on a family vacation when I was a teenager and will never forget it – all that white leading up to the sea is indeed overwhelming. It’s such an important place to visit if you’re a history buff – glad you made it happen! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

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Becki Rendell October 3, 2019 at 10:30 am

What a lovely post tributing this outstanding and sombre place. So many of these war meorials have ‘Gram takers all over showing no respect to how the place came to be. This is done so tastefully with a good amount of hisotry to back everything up. How much sorrow this place has seen, the world can not forget.

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