The day after we arrived in Paris, we hopped on a train first thing in the morning and headed to Normandy for a pre-arranged tour that Scott had booked online. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about both the American and British WWII military history.
Spending a day in Normandy was something that was close to our hearts. My grandpa Arturo M. Garcia a.k.a. “Pie” (to close friends and family), served our great nation in the U.S. Army, Second Infantry Division, during the war. He survived the gruesome battles at Omaha Beach in 1944, continued on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, fought his way through the rest of the war, and still lives today to share his stories.
We started our tour in the town of St. Mere Eglise where we learned about the American Airborne Landings, capture and defense. Our guide Eric gave us a very detailed explanation of the American plans and German defenses. We also made a quick stop in the Airborne Museum.
From there we drove to Utah Beach. During the ride to Utah beach Eric explained the importance that the hedgerows surrounding all of the farm fields had on the battle of Normandy. We made a brief stop at Utah Beach and the memorial that stands there.
We then headed to Point Du Hoc where we were able to walk through some of the old German bunkers that are still standing and also see all of the craters that remain from bombings. We then headed to Omaha Beach.
Omaha Beach held the most significance to us. Standing on the same beach where Pie and so many others risked or gave their lives for the freedom of others was a very powerful and emotional moment. Pie had always talked about wanting to go back and see all of the places he had fought in the war during peacetime. He never was able to go back, and at his age now is no longer able to. He was with us in spirit and we tried our best to capture as much as we could in pictures for him to be able to see how beautiful it is when at peace.
Our tour ended at the American WWII Cemetery where many brave heroes were laid to rest. At a quarter after five in the evening, they lowered the flags at the cemetery to the sound of taps. It was so overwhelming to see, but really puts things in perspective. It reminded us to be grateful for what those heroes fought for and continue to fight for, so we can lead the lives we live today and every day.