We started today with a long, long visit to the Memorial to the Omaha Beach ... Battle of Normandy which was opened in 1989 in Caen. This is a beautiful new museum, richly supplied with films and displays that cover the runup to WW II, the early parts of the War (as, e.g., Battle of Britain), Jour J, and then the Normandy campaign itself, well-illustrated. This is a must see for any traveller. Excellent bookstore, broad treatment of the war, quite informative.
Perhaps the Memorial essays to do too much by going on to the Cold War and subsequent wars and the quest for peace; not so much because their ideas are not consonant with ours, but rather because the story is well stopped after the thorough treatment of the battle of Normandy. Perhaps they are unaware that it takes more than one museum to provide a human with enough information to understand war and peace!
After seeing the displays in the Memorial we grabbed a bite in the cafeteria, drove to nearby Bayeux and checked into a hotel, and then were off to ... was well defended ... the Normandy beaches. We visited the large United States National Cemetery and memorials on the hilltop overlooking Omaha Beach, walked down to the water, pictured the battle, tried to match the peaceful beach scenes of today with the images of fighting fresh in our imaginations from the excellent films we had just seen. We photographed the scene and then headed east to a hilltop German gun emplacement, the artillery still standing, the bunkers pockmarked with shells but still intact. The German coastal defenses were just awesome, and the only way the Allied forces prevailed was by continuing to pour overwhelming numbers of troops ashore and by great acts of individual heroism.
At one memorial, a German gun emplacement at the top of the hill had fallen only after an intense assault by combat engineers, who received a ... and many died Presidential Unit Citation and the Croix de Guerre for their collective heroism, and no less than five Medals of Honor for their individual heroism. We were struck with awe.
Finally we visited Arromanches, where Port Winston was honored. Churchill's own idea was to bring in a floating port, which was duly established at Arromanches and dubbed Port Winston. It satisfied the major supply needs of Allied forces in Western Europe until the port of Antwerp was opened in November.
Returning to the Hotel, we had mussels and John Dory and strawberry soup for dinner, delicious. The hotel staff coped magnificently with a tour busload of chatty Americans. Dan mastered "fruits de mer" -- an enormous collection of shellfish, including sea snails.
All through this trip to Normandy we took many photos, which we'd be happy to share; just drop us a note.