Day 1,591 of Traveling the World | Omaha Beach, France | June 11, 2022

What an emotion-filled day, visiting Omaha Beach and Point du Hoc, along with all the memorials for the US forces here on the northern French coast of Normandy. Omaha Beach, we were told, looks exactly as it did in 1944 – wide, long, and undeveloped. As far as the eye can see, there are no hotels or even beach cottages on the beach. We didn’t look for any, but we read that they recently found mortar shells and shrapnel in the sand; experts said it would all still be there in a few hundred years, as there was simply too much of it to ever clean it up completely.

As Americans, we absolutely can feel the gratitude of the French for our efforts to liberate the country from Germany. All the memorials are well-kept, pristine even, and are decorated with fresh flowers. Photos of American soldiers are celebrated on banners lining the streets. There were many flags representing the Allied powers on the streets, on businesses and even on homes. The American Cemetery is exceedingly beautiful, with careful attention to the landscaping. Even the crosses marking each grave are clean and debris-free. It is so impressive!

As you walk to the different areas of the beach you find memorials telling stories of individuals and groups of soldiers. One memorial told of a group of rangers who were landed three miles away from their target area due to a navigational error and had to fight three miles down the reinforced beach before they could even start the mission they were sent for. Other memorials recall areas being taken that the Germans had thought were unassailable.

Today, this whole area that was chaotic in 1944 is serene and calm. There were a lot of buses, though! We ran into many groups touring the sites, especially students, and loads of buses filled the parking lots. As we drove away in early afternoon, in the rain, we encountered at least two dozen buses heading toward the memorials. A busy time! – and only early June.

A view of the long stretch of Omaha Beach from atop a hill that we climbed, just to get a photo of the beach!
…and Omaha Beach in the other direction. It is not developed, but is just pristine, quiet, and mostly deserted.
This sign told us where we were!
This memorial marks the site of the first road cleared off Omaha Beach. It is the remains of a bunker taken out by US forces, opening up the interior. Thousands of GIs took this road from the beach to inland France and on to the rest of continental Europe.
This artillery piece is the only thing that remains in the bunker.
France does a great job of honoring the US soldiers who died to liberate the country from the Axis Powers. These banners honoring various US soldiers (this one is William S. Stevens) were mounted on street lights along the roads for many miles in this area, all saying Never Forget.
We couldn’t believe our eyes! Harnessed horses running on Omaha Beach!!!
Sculpture memorial titled Les Braves, looking like sails rising out of the sand.
The Omaha Beach Memorial.
Side view of the memorial, with soldiers etched in. Everywhere, there were fresh flowers near all the memorials that we photographed.
Point du Hoc is a promontory with a 110-foot cliff overlooking the English Channel that the Germans had fortified with gun placements. The US Army Ranger Assault Group scaled the cliffs and captured the point!
The view of the English Channel from Point du Hoc.
The monument erected to the US Army Rangers.
You can still see the ground craters at Point du Hoc from WWII bombings.
These are the Point du Hoc cliffs that were scaled by the US Rangers, leading to the capture of the Point.
You can take a closer look at the insides of one of the bunkers at Point du Hoc. There were living quarters in addition to military lookouts.
Looking toward the English Channel, Point du Hoc looks quite peaceful today.
The American Cemetery just above Omaha Beach, on a cliff overlooking the landing site. It was one of the cleanest, neatest, most well-tended memorials we have ever been to.
Like Arlington Cemetery, crosses – and Stars of David – were in perfect rows.
A closeup of one grave, that of William T. Veil of Pennsylvania. Relatives had their choice of having their loved one buried here, or having them return home.
A map of the D-Day military strategy at the cemetery’s memorial.
A beautiful pond filled with water lilies, facing the memorial.
“Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves,” sculpted by Donald De Lue. This was incredibly moving, and a wonderful cap to our day on the beaches of Normandy.