27 May

This past weekend, 24-26 May, began my journey to and through Normandy for the 80th Anniversary of the Invasion.

Here and now, events are on-going in uncountable numbers of villages and towns around the country— and this will continue through June and beyond.

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Photo Credit Nouvelle Commune Saint James

Remember, it is their soil that absorbed the weight, shock and burden of the onslaught of the Normandy Invasion. It  happened right here where I live, in the Commune of Saint James, on this earth … in these fields … and in the lives of everyone around me.

As each village was liberated, they celebrated.

This year being the 80th, re-enactment exhibitions began over the weekend.

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Saint James


Massive armored military trucks and tanks  lined the fields. The hospital tent, the mess hall; all these exhibits, tangible displays.

Parents brought their children. Teens moved through the exhibition hall registering the memorabilia laid out by veterans and elders alike — touching the untouchable.

A burned out German military vehicle was also on display. It took me straight to Oradour, the small, peaceful village just west of Limoges, that was burned to the ground on 10 June 1944 — 4 days after the Invasion —with nearly all inhabitants — 643 — massacred.


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When Le General De Gaulle arrived in March 1945 to bear witness to the wrath, he said it was to be frozen in time; all traces of the massacre left intact. Burned out vehicles, blown out windows, charred buildings — all remain as it was. Silence still fills the streets …

Here, the Brittany American Cemetery in Saint James, basse Normandie, (lower Normandy), sits quietly just on the outskirts of town itself, in the adjacent village of Montjoie-Saint-Martin.

One of several American Battle Monument Commission sites in France alone, this particular cimetière is at the point where American forces broke through hedgerows and rolling farmlands on the Normandy/Brittany border during the offensive.


It is the final resting place for 4,400 war dead and another 500 unknowns under a canopy of well-groomed, now ‘elder’ flowering trees and hedgerows.

Yesterday was the official ceremony at the Cemetery and Memorial,  hosting dignitaries, media, and locals alike. Included were 1,400 school children from this region, all wearing white caps, each placing a single white rose, on every grave.


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Photo Credit Christian Laye, Saint James

Sifting through the movement afoot, all of it, has me finding an undercurrent.

It’s one of unending gratitude.

Some people are saying ‘this will be the last big anniversary’ but I reckon not.

Twenty years from now, when the clock has turned to the 100th Anniversary, the price of freedom to live an ordinary life will still be honored as order of the day.