In the United States we celebrate the fourth of July as a remembrance of the date that our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Typically a day for pool parties, the beach, barbecues, picnics, and gathering friends and family, the culmination of our day watching the sky above light up with a patriotic show of fireworks.
Reflecting on this day we don’t often remember how it was celebrated during important periods in American history, like World War II.
Did you know?
When visiting the Beaches of Normandy, the level of patriotism experienced throughout the region is equivalent to any American battlefield on home ground.
Stepping inside the remains of German bunkers that still lay on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel you can almost picture American soldiers scaling the rock faces unknowingly aware of what they will discover at the top.
Arriving onto Omaha Beach, you come to understand the Allied campaign, the hours leading up to the arrival along the Normandy coast and how the day almost never happened.
As you drive the coast along the beaches you see the French farmhouses that to this day fly the American flag in honor of what occurred here on June 6, 1944 before walking in the footsteps of those who were here before you.
Once reaching the American Memorial you discover the names, faces and stories of everyday Americans who became heroes before, during and after the battle. Sacrificing their lives and futures defending the honor of their own country yet thousands of miles from their homes.
Moving further onto the beautifully manicured hallowed grounds of the American Memorial Cemetery you can’t help but feel an awe of sadness and chills of pride as you glance across the rows and rows of 9,386 American servicemen enshrined there.
Visiting the Garden of the Missing, reality sets in of the almost 1600 names of soldiers inscribed onto the walls who were declared lost during the Battle of Normandy, code-name Operation Overlord.
Visiting on July 4th, you will not see fireworks or hear a serenade of American hymns to remind you of your loyal existence. However, no patriotic observation is more moving then witnessing the daily ceremony of the lowering of the American flag accompanied by the sounds of Taps and a gunfire salute.
The best way to honor our past is to visit the regions traveled through and served in, understand the stories and remember what makes our history so important to our future.
You too can experience the Beaches of Normandy, and/or the American Memorial Visitors Center and Cemetery during the Fourth of July or year-round. Take a day trip from Paris, enjoy a long weekend in the nearby village of Bayeux or immerse in the département of Normandy on a scenic river cruise along the Seine River.
BucketList Travel Advisors is a specialist in river travel. Cruise the Seine river starting in Paris through the Ile de France and into the Normandy countryside. Discover our website to learn more about the rivers of Europe.