Saturday, June 4, 2011
Continuing Our Journey
by Sadie Huff
Today we awoke and after an amazing breakfast buffet we loaded our bags, boarded our tour bus, and departed the quaint and colorful town of Roissy-en-France. After traveling through the breathtaking French countryside, we arrived in Normandy. Normandy itself is about the size of Connecticut, therefore we were in it long before we reached Bayeux. Bayeux is a medieval town that played a key role in WWII. It is the only town that was not completely obliterated during the bombing of the war. We saw the infamous hedges which are over 1,000 years old and many do not know this, but the hedges were overlooked when the invasions were being planned and more men were killed there than on D-day itself. We finally arrived in Port-en-Bessin and Ray, one of our tour guides, described the actions that had taken place there. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of standing there on the beach, hearing the waves splash the shoreline, and know that the air was once was filled with the sound of mortars exploding and bullets flying through the air with sickening whistles. Even the German bunker on top of the hill is now surrounded by vibrant flowers emitting a sweet perfume into the air.
After leaving the Port we visited the cathdral in Bayeux: an enormous and stately 1,000 year old cathedral.
Tonight we enjoyed a lovely dinner and then retired to a conference room where we went over tomorrow's schedule, and then introduced ourselves and any connections that we had with WWII. Everyone has a story who is here. There is such an encompassing bond that has continually drawn all of together. The veterans are continually sharing their stories and seem just as eager to share them as we students are to ask questions and hear the answers. I cannot even begin to describe the feelings of comraderie. It is as if there is an indelible bond that draws us all together; the veterans experienced the battles, and we students want to hear the stories and understand as best as we can what these men went through. Driving into the town of Bayeux and hearing the history around it, seeing the places where battles were actually fought, observing firsthand graves of men that died...one cannot even begin to explain it. History is no longer just a technical word or a subject that is required to learn. History has come off of the page of the history books and is now a reality. These men remind us of the freedom that we have now. It reminds us, and teaches us, that freedom was not just a right or easily had, it was fought for and many lives were given for its cause.