Normandy World War II: A Sea of White Crosses

As a World War II history buff, my ambition was to visit Mecca: the Normandy World War II beaches. In 1994, I joined a military historical tour commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy World War II invasion.

After postponing the landings due to inclement weather, Ike made the historic and agonizing decision to launch the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 with his famous order, "OK. Let's go."

White Sails will take you from the Normandy World War II landing sites, to the Normandy American Cemetery, which is situated on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach. It covers 172 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 American military dead, including those of the roughly 3,000 killed at "Bloody Omaha." Walking through the endless sea of white crosses, embedded in perfectly manicured acres of grass, made Normandy World War II the most moving experience of the trip.

Read about Pegasus Bridge, famous for having been the site of the initial Normandy World War II landings. The bridge had to be taken in order to prevent German armor from reaching the beachhead. You'll read about the village of Sainte-Mére-Èglise, famous for being the first town in France liberated by U.S. troops.

To commemorate Normandy World War II, our group attended the service at Pointe du Hoc, which was attended by the President and Mrs. Clinton. It was significant on D-Day because of its cliff-high gun and bunker emplacements. Nevertheless, the Rangers managed to scale the summit and capture the cliffs.

The Normandy World War II beaches now rest under a ghostly stillness, unlike that chilly morning when they shuddered with the sounds of gunfire and the thunder of bombardment.