France Exchange Week 2- Visiting Normandy

This weekend is a three day weekend since we have Monday off for Easter, and because of this, my host family and I have taken a trip to Agon-Coutainville. Agon-Coutainville is a small town in Normandy, about 2 hours from Mont Saint Michel. We spent most of the day today driving to and visiting a couple of historic places in Normandy that are either on the landing sites of troops during D-Day or otherwise honor the countless lives lost by American, British, and Canadian soldiers during the liberation of France during WWII.

White crosses and Stars of David at the Normandy American Cemetery.

The first place we visited was the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It was sobering to see the thousands of white crosses in the cemetery, each one representing the life of a life lost here in Normandy during WWII.

The Overlord Museum

Later, we visited the Overlord Museum, which showcases numerous exhibits of posed soldiers which are based on actual photos taken of soldiers during the war.  The museum also has lots of artifacts, such as the gear they carried, and a number of massive tanks, restored to how they would have looked while in use.

Monument and cliffs at Pointe du Hoc

Lastly, we stopped at the Pointe du Hoc Monument, and although we didn’t go into the visitor center, we got a chance to walk around the field on top of the cliff, explore some of the ruins of the German bunkers and marvel at the expanse of ocean before us. It amazed me to see the steep cliffs which soldiers scaled during the attack to dismantle the German guns which would fire down on troops on the Utah and Omaha beaches. What amazed me even more was to see how the grassland atop the cliffs is still marred with large craters, carved out by bombs during the war.

While the significance of these sites is not lost to me, it was also interesting to me how many different people we saw at these sites. Since appearances alone didn’t give away everything, I found myself listening in to accents and languages spoken, and because of this I can tell we passed many French, German, Spanish, British, and even a few other Americans during our visits today.

I feel very grateful to have gotten this opportunity to engage in another culture and visit places like these that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

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