Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ATWABA: two days in Normandy.

first stop, who knows where? here we go, I'll take you there... come on along we're going around the world and back again...

excerpts from my vacation journal:

"got to the airport 2 hours before we could even check our bags. made it through security and to our gate with no issues. waited 2 more hours before we boarded... trying to adopt the new time zone on the plane so we're not exhausted for sight-seeing tomorrow... i dont have a window, but i plan on sleeping for the majority of the flight so it shouldnt make a difference... still can't quite believe i'm on my way to Europe!"

"first ugly-cry-type meltdown: check. on the flight from Dulles to Heathrow. absolutely exhausted, but could not sleep... i cried. and declared my done-ness with this whole trip. and then Mark so lovingly reminded me that we still have another flight. i elbowed him harder than he deserved. i'm already looking forward to sleeping in a real bed tonight."

"the Normandy cemetery was very moving. the weather cleared up for the first time since we've been on the ground, and the sunlight was absolutely perfect."

"it was very emotional to see so many graves all in one place of people who died so young in just a matter of days."

"it is hard to believe that a place full of such beauty was at one time filled with such ugliness."

"our hotel... had THE nicest beds and pillows. slept like a rock."

"Ponte du Hoc was neat. Like Omaha Beach, it was a site of the D-Day invasion. unlike Omaha, it was much easier to imagine it during wartime."

"large craters pockmarked the ground, the leftovers of bombs. several German bunkers were still intact, as well as some large gun bases."

"this was where the American troops had to scale vertical cliffs, rather than invade on the flat beaches. The germans were not anticipating the attack at this location. even so, more than half of the troops were killed."

"the weather was gray and windy during the time we were there, which added a little to the solemnity of the site. all of the craters were filled with grass and other flowering bushes, softening what i'm sure was once a very ugly place, making it kind of serene."

i was glad that we did the Normandy sites first-thing on the trip, since they were pretty heavy and a little depressing. we didn't have a whole lot of time in Normandy, but there is a LOT more to see in that area. i'm sure it would be easy to fill an entire week or more and still feel like you've missed something. but no matter how much or how little time you are there, you can't help but walk away with a feeling of gratitude to the thousands of men and women who went there in the name of freedom and made it their final resting place.

...strange sights, people, names. all so different; all the same...

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