During our time in Normandy, we planned to visit the American cemetery to remember the soldiers who died there. What we did not expect, however, were deeply meaningful visits to British and German cemeteries. In this post, I will reflect on our visit to the American cemetery, and in the next post, I’ll write about our time at the German and British cemeteries.The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial sits high above Omaha Beach near the towns of Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and Colleville-sur-Mer. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains the cemetery, which is picturesque with white grave markers in neat rows. The grounds are immaculately kept, and the serenity that fills the place is a fitting memorial to the brave service members who died in Normandy. Much like Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC, the setting is moving and inspiring.
The American cemetery contains the graves of 9,387 service members, and the names of 1,557 service members are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing.
In addition to the grounds, there is an excellent visitors center, which opened in 2007. You can learn the larger story of Operation Overlord and hear stories of individual men and women whose lives were altered in Normandy. Some of them died there, some were injured, and others lost their sons, husbands, fathers, or brothers.One particularly moving experience is the movie, Letters, which focuses on letters written by service men who died in Normandy. While hearing their letters to loved ones and seeing pictures of these young men before and during their military service, I realized the depth of the loss when they died in Normandy.
Visiting the cemetery is well worth the time and effort involved. It is indeed a fitting memorial to the American service members who died on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy.