Most of you know how much I love France. I love the history, I love the language, I love the architecture. I truly could live there, especially in the countryside, just outside a wonderful village, where I could ride my bicycle complete with fabulous basket to and from the village with my baguettes and items from le marche. I would obviously be wearing a cute skirt and ribbons in my hair...
Five years ago, we took the trip of a lifetime and spent time driving around the north of France, exploring les petite villes and enjoying ourselves immensely. We were there to experience the incredible 60th anniversary of D-Day and what an incredible experience it was. Quite accidentally, we ended up on a ship sailing from Portsmouth, England to Ouistreham, France on the 1st of June, 2004. After boarding the ship, we noticed that we were surrounded by multiple octogenarians dressed in military uniforms. My husband is fascinated with WWII and especially with the events surrounding the landing on the beaches of Normandy. To hear people who had never met sharing incredible stories of survival, friends lost, and triumph was so very moving. I shed quite a few tears that day.
We were escorted the entire way by four military ships - one from the US, one from Canada, one from England, and one from France. There were also helicopters flying overhead. When we landed at Ouistreham, the veterans received a hero's welcome - current military in their dress blues lined the gang way. A full band played as the veterans disembarked. People who had a difficult time getting down the gang way were assisted by a younger soldier. It was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced.
The entire time we were in Normandy, flags from Canada, the US, England, and France flew everywhere we went. People were so friendly, and the feeling of celebration was constant. We visited the beaches, and were amazed at how the soldiers that day could have ever scaled those cliffs. It really made it real for me - the sacrifice these men made for all of us.
So, this time of year, as we approach the 65th anniversary of D-Day, it makes me think of that trip, and wish that we could go back, do it again, and be a part of something so amazing once more.