What gorgeous weather we had today as we traveled to Normandy to see Utah Beach and museum, in addition to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery. It was a very moving experience for the students to learn more about World War 2 and the events that took place on D-Day. It was surreal for them to stand where such a decisive battle took place and to wander the cemetery and honor the brave soldiers who lost their lives. Below you can find some pictures and reflections from the day.
Utah Beach Museum
Kami: Today we went to Normandy and it was not only incredible, but incredibly surreal. Walking in the beach, hearing the stories, and seeing the graves made the impact history should. I.t was incredible to how recent this is and how important I.t was that this happened. There was no communication on the ground they could on trust and fought democracy worldwide. As I was speaking to another student I was saying how important I.t is to be here, not only because the holocaust is the part of history I am most interested in, but because of how these things really happened. I.t was very moving to know that these people fought and gave their lives for others and they didn’t even know the impact or they people they didn’t even realize they were fighting for. Normandy was a pivotal part of world history and truly exemplified how we much work for each other because we share this planet. It was incredible to watch the bravery and see the thousands of people buried. Normandy was so moving because War is so greedy, and to see how people give so much to it later is later appreciated, it is truly a sight.
The group in front of Utah Beach
Zoe: Today at the American Cemetery in Normandy, I was able to find the grave of my great great uncle, Paul Button Snyder. The whole day we had been learning about the “operation overlord” and the incredible feats the allied forces were able to achieve in Normandy. It was absolutely incredible to see the beaches where the largest military intervention in history take place, and humbling to see the American cemetery where 10,000 sons, fathers, and brothers were laid to rest. After seeing the memorial in the cemetery, I went by myself to find my great great uncle. Seeing the grave was much more emotional than I thought it would be because even though I did not know him I still felt an immense sense of gratitude and pride towards him. I stayed for just a few respectful moments to process and appreciate what he and every person around me gave their lives for. I will never forget my experience at Normandy.
a beautiful rainbow over Utah Beach
Susan: Our trip to Plages du débarquement was educational and touching for me. Even before we arrived, French people kept expressing their genuine gratitude to the United States for what the allies did to liberate France. Even though half of the century has passed, the French, especially people in Normandy, still remembered and connected the history very well and the history was subtly affecting their life. When we got to the two museums—one for the Utah Beach and one for the American cemetery—we watched several short films on D-Day. In these films, there were introductions and interviews on the soldiers that sacrificed in the war. When we actually got to know more about the person behind the soldier figure and when we saw their faces, their family, their life stories, it was more powerful than anything. As we slowly walked to the cemetery, we were talking how we could only imagine their situation, but we would never know exactly how they completed this attack that was important not only to France but to Europe and to the whole world. As an international student, I felt really sentimental as well while walking through the enormous land with white crosses curved with names. This meaningful trip definitely made me more emotionally connected to the history I knew about.
10,625 soldiers buried in the American cemetery
Martha and Robi in the American cemetery
Today, we visited the Plages du Débarquement in Normandy. Our first stop was the Museum at Utah Beach. My experience today was extremely different than any I have ever experienced. I have been learning about WWII ever since I can remember, but I had never been able to fully connect and understand the horrors of the war until today. At first, the museum seemed normal, but as I read and saw all that had been conserved from the war, I was amazed. The museum had original letters addressed to the soldiers, original medicine left from the war, money, cigarettes, clothes, flags, and even maps marked with the original annotations for D-day. l cannot believe the museum was able to find all of these objects, and keep them for future generations to see. I am also very surprised that such meaningless objects that were used in everyday life had such an impact on my view of the war.
All of these objects were very shocking, but what impacted me the most was a letter written to one of the marines who died in the USS Rich by his girlfriend. It was burnt and torn in half, but parts of the text were still visible. It read “There are so many little things I would (…) know about you so I would know things to write about, (…) that when I see you we can talk about them, so I am starting a list so that someday when we are together, I won’t forget to talk about them”. This letter broke my heart. I was also in shock by the fact that many of the soldiers had my age when they fought in the war. They had many pictures of the soldiers and marines in various parts of the museum, and we later saw a video that told the stories of the lives of many of them. This experience made my view on the war much more personal, since I could relate to many aspects of their lives. My experience today reminded me that each person is “writing” their own story, and that many people are not able to finish it, which is why I must be grateful for what I have and realize how lucky I am.
*parts of the quote were not visible, which is why I quoted them like this: (…)
Photos from Tania: