2004 was the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. We'd like to share some pictures from this memorable group trip which we enjoyed.
We were honored to share this trip with two of our heroes–Alice and Bill from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Alice served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services) during the war and described her work in D. C. typing codes and the secrecy surrounding what she did.
She said that none of the ladies knew the significance of the codes they were typing and she came to realize just how dedicated all the women were who served with her. For Alice, the trip was a first to Omaha Beach.
Bill landed with the 29th Division at Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1944. For Bill, who had been a cook in the army, it had been sixty years since he'd been on Omaha Beach. He said that the highlight of his stay in Normandy was twice getting to prepare a meal for General Eisenhower. He was also thankful that he made it home without any problems.
The ceremonies at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach were memorable and Presidents George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac stood side-by-side during the events.
There were other dignitaries present at the celebrations of this 60th Anniversary. Our hero Bill had the pleasure to meet Tom Hanks. Tom was enthralled with the story of our Veteran's story and thrilled and honored to meet a true American hero.
Later in the afternoon, on the way into a café at Isigny-sur-Mer, a young French man asked one of the individuals in our group if he could speak to the Veteran. Of course, this was encouraged. The young man asked Bill to please sign his poster (one depicting the Liberation of Paris in August of 1944). After our Hero Bill had signed the poster, the young man shook Bill's hand and in his broken English said "I would like to thank you, Sir, for what you did for my country and for the French people!"
It was heart-warming to listen and watch as Veterans who had served their country on D-Day so many years ago were meeting one another for the first time. The camaraderie was instant as they shared a connection which the rest of us could only imagine.
During the celebrations in Normandy, the re-enactors were, indeed, privileged to meet and talk with Veterans who had arrived on D-Day some sixty years ago. With authentic clothing, authentic equipment, and authentic transportation, it somehow seemed their biggest thrill was to meet an authentic hero of the day.
Colleville-sur-Mer is where the First US Infantry Division came ashore on D-Day on a part of Omaha Beach known on the operation maps as Fox Green and Fox Red. The town and its citizens are forever indebted to the Americans who gave all that day and the mayor of Colleville, Monsieur Thomines, honored our hero Bill and his heroine wife Alice with special commemorative medals.
We thank all Veterans from the Allied Countries who landed on Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold, and Juno Beaches on June 6, 1944, and who sacrificed so much for freedom, the noblest of causes. May God bless you.
We invite you to learn more about our 69th anniversary of D-Day Escorted tour to Paris and Normandy in 2013.