Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reflecting on D-Day: Crossing the Channel

I wanted to reflect what it was like spending a night in the English Channel before the actual invasion.  How nerve racking it must have been for the soldiers.  Did they go to bed?  Did they sleep well?  How could they if they knew what would be awaiting them the next day.  

The seas were rough that night.  Many of the soldiers fell sick.  The space was jammed. Bunks were six deep and each berthing compartment held about 50 men.

We are the Champions

Neil Proposes to Jill at the Eiffel

Pretty Woman Dancing by the Eiffel

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Normandy: My 20 Years in the Navy was Nothing Compared to this

"It was a travesty to see how so many young,  boundless lives were forever lost on this bloody foreign beach.  At the American Cemetery, I could see thousands of white crosses and Stars of David facing patriotically towards their homeland."

My retirement from the Navy wouldn't be complete without paying homage to the D-Day troops in Normandy.  Americans, British, Canadians -- it didn't matter which flag they were flying -- they stood up for unity against Nazi aggression and many fell to their gravesites on these beaches.

Over Sixty-five years later, the hilly seaside bears few scars from the dark and gray day of June 6, 1944.  But on that longest day, things had turned to hell in a hurry.

I could not imagine these young soldiers jumping out of their LCAs, crossing the slippery beach and climbing the cliff face via ropes and grappling hooks in the face of nasty fire.

Family Home in Bayeux -- Great Bargain

What a wonderful bargain this was.  Convenient, Comfortable, Charming.

The only hostel in town and meets the budget.  Also historic, clean spacious.

Even the French breakfast was delicious and plenty.  We ate so much, we could skip lunch altogether.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Louvre

Notre Dame

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, so gothic so old.
It houses the skull of John the Baptist encased in gold
Built in the 13th century to honor the Virgin the Mary
The stained glass in the North Rose window shows Mary holding the Holy Child close.

Biking the Normandy Landings

This is the land where William the Conqueror set sail in 1066 and where the Allies landed in 1944.

Biking in Normandy and visiting the D-Day landmarks and memorial is simply amazing.  The ride from Bayeux where Niki, Dillion and I rented our bikes is only about 8 miles (although it took us 45 minutes to get there since we took the circuitous route).  There were many storybook villages and the luscious of green pastures on the way, so we thoroughly enjoyed being lost.
William the Conqueror depicted in the famous Bayeux tapestry

But once along the stunning seacoast, the views were wind-swept, magnificent and momentous.  We parked our bikes and took a scenic journey along the beach for a few miles.  Running, swimming, enjoying the weather and reminiscing the past.