Remembering the Fallen at Normandy’s War Cemeteries

In Normandy, you’re surrounded by the echoes of death. The most poignant reminder of the war that scarred this beautiful landscape resides in the American, British, and German war cemeteries. Each cemetery was beautiful and moving on their own, with immaculate lawns, bright flags and flowers, and eerie yet tranquil silences that filled the spaces between headstones. Standing in a field of memorials and crosses, it is almost impossible to fully grasp that each marker represents a man. 


German Cemetery at La Cambe

The German cemetery at La Cambe was, to me, one of the more sobering sites of our Normandy visit. With roughly 21,000 men buried there, each stone marked the burial spot of two German soldiers. Some were identified, some were not. Some of the dead were forty years old, some were as young as seventeen. I felt genuine sorrow for those buried at La Cambe. Interred in the land of their enemy, in a cemetery with little pageantry, having died for a cause that many stationed at Normandy likely did not believe in. It was difficult to walk through La Cambe, past graves of young Germans three, four years my younger and not feel pity for how their lives came to a close.


British Cemetery in Bayeux

The British cemetery in Bayeux was brighter in appearance than La Cambe, yet just as sorrowful. The graves were lined up in picturesque rows, columns, and sections, and the grounds are obviously well-maintained. Each grave had a flower or shrubbery planted in front of it, and was adorned with a message from family or a Bible verse. Once again, here I noticed just how young these men were. Nineteen and twenty year-old men, abandoning their lives and families to fight against the tyrannical German war machine.




The American cemetery, located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, has been one of my most memorable stops on this tour. The rows of crosses stretch seemingly to the horizon, and when you stand amongst them, you truly feel surrounded. It is hard to put into words the emotional rollercoaster that was the American cemetery. Taps and the national anthem were played over the loudspeakers, which, upon the concluding notes, had not left a dry eye within our group.

American Cemetery at Omaha Beach


The cemeteries of Normandy are our most tangible reminders of the war and the human devastation that crept in its shadow. Yes, the beaches are still visited, the artificial harbor still peeks out of the water at Arromanches, and the memories of those days live on in the collective memory of the region. But until you visit the hallowed grounds, absorb the scale of the loss, and pay your respects, you don’t really understand the true cost of war.

Leave a Reply

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