D-Day in Real Life

As we slowly made it to port in France, I was overcome with an immense feeling of déjà vu. We spent all semester learning about the importance of the war in, and the Allied liberation of, France. It finally hit me that we had just made the trek across the English Channel and arrived in France after a very similar journey to the one that the Allies made just 71 years ago. Everything we learned in class came to life and seemed much more real. It was amazing to be able to compare then and now with pictures, soldiers’ recollections, and memorabilia to the material we read in class.

My favorite museum of our time in Normandy and Bayeux was the museum at Utah Beach, as well as looking out over the dunes and seeing the peaceful waves lap at the coast. IMG_1330 IMG_1336

The museum was simple and small, but very well done. The first exhibit that caught my attention showed a pair of German boots that had a sign underneath it which said that the felt from these boots “often consisted of human hair taken from the millions of Jews murdered in concentration camps.” The wording struck me as unusual because of the curator’s choice to use murdered rather than a euphemism like the ones we had seen throughout the British and French museums. I think the curator who designed this exhibit used the correct word because the Jews and others in the concentration camps were murdered, simply put. You can say they perished, died, were deported or liquidated, but murdered creates the negative connotation that the history deserves. The Germans murdered millions of Jews, Gypsies, mentally handicapped, etc. and many of the museums we have seen that discuss the Holocaust use euphemisms to describe the events of the Holocaust. Well done to the curator of the Utah Beach museum.


I enjoyed the rest of the museum and learning about how invading through Utah Beach was not in consideration until the final months leading up to the invasion. There was also a book that I saw in one of the cases that talked about a prisoner of war’s rights and I can’t imagine the Allies received many of those rights if caught by the Axis Powers. Regardless, it made me think about the cruelties of war and what life as a POW would have been like. It sent a cold chill down my spine.

Throughout my time in Bayeux, I saw the many sites of the D-Day invasions and was impressed with the preservation of the memories and sites of the historical event. To see a bomb crater ten feet deep and twenty feet wide shocked me. I can only imagine the noise that the bomb made when it crashed to the earth on Pointe du Hoc. Incredible! I enjoyed seeing the French interpretations of the war and the liberation of France, even if some of it was a little, ok a lot at times, skewed towards their point of view. I mean I doubt the French would have been able to liberate themselves without Allied help, but that can be saved for another discussion. I am excited to head to Paris to be a very touristy American and also to enjoy the atmosphere of the City of Love! Au revoir for now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *