Growing up, I pretty much had the perfect childhood. Well not perfect, but very close. I grew up in a beautiful little town called Plymouth, Michigan. People worked hard for what they earned. I was able to walk or ride my bike to town without being afraid. During national holidays like the 4th of July there was always a parade and yes, I decorated my bike and rode along with my friends beaming with pride of being an American. I enjoyed concerts in the park, playing in the lakes, and ice cream at the Dairy King, sledding and tobogganing down wintery hills, skating on ponds and yes going to school. I may have been young but I was not naive. I watched as my sister cried when her new husband left for Viet Nam and thankfully came home to us. I had grown up in a home where the men all served their country and did it with pride. For that I will forever be grateful. Not only to the beautiful men in my family but to the thousands and thousands who left their families to go help others who were in need.
Since moving to Europe, many places to visit and see have been added to my bucket list. But I knew without a doubt, one place would be very dear to me. I went not only for myself, not only for the brave men in my family who fought in many wars in foreign countries, but also for everyone who lost their lives to keep the rest of us safe. I wanted to see Normandy, France and pay my respect to the wonderful people of the United States who fought in a horrible battle in order to free the world from a horrific terror.
We drove from Eindhoven to a little village in France called Villerville. Through rolling farm lands as beautiful as I’ve ever seen. Past little villages that run along the Northern France border that runs along the English Channel. The weather was foggy and a little chilly but I couldn’t help but smile at the beauty surrounding me. The little villages like Honfleur, Villerville and Trouville all were near our little bed and breakfast where we stayed. Each with cobblestone streets, tiny little taverns, beautiful churches and stone walls carved into the history that had no plans of going anywhere, anytime soon. It’s like time has stood still in these little villages.
We drove about an hour and a half from our B&B to Normandy. The fog lifting ever so lightly so that we could get a glimpse of the past. Along the rocky cliffs you can still see concrete bunkers and mounds carved into the scenery that the Germans had made ready to attack our poor boys as they hit the beach. Some never even made it off the boats. But I bet those Germans were scared as they laid in wait for us and saw thousands of boats ready to come ashore.
But, like the statue that over looks the headstones, the American youth rose out of the waves of the water and marched on to victory. Thousands of men died that day on the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. To the men who will be forever young, thank you so much for not only liberating people around the world but for sacrificing your life for our freedom. This American Girl is truly grateful.