If you like history and/or appreciate our military or maybe you have a family member who served in France during World War II, a trip to Normandy, France for D-Day will interest you.
Things to know before you go to Normandy, France:
- If you want to be in Normandy, France on the actual date of D-Day (June 6) plan months before the trip and expect crowds. If you want to be there on a major anniversary year such as the 80th anniversary in 2024, expect bigger crowds in Normandy and plan a year in advance.
- Websites that can help you with planning your D-Day Normandy, France trip include: www.dday.center , www.abmc.gov, and www.lonelyplanet.com/france/normandy.
- You may need tickets to some events in Normandy during the D-Day celebrations which include Remembrance Ceremonies; Educational programs about the D-Day battles in 1944; living history re-enactors complete with World War II vehicles, uniforms, and planes; concerts with military bands; and fireworks.
- There are many tours available to the World War II D-Day Normandy beach landing sites including the American Cemetery. The tours provide information about the history of the battles that took place in Normandy. Choose one tour and book it before you arrive in France.
What to expect when you get to Normandy for D-Day:
- If you travel to the Normandy Beaches or D-Day ceremonies sometime between 2021 and 2024, you will likely see US Veterans who survived D-Day. Think about that: if they were 18 years old in 1944, by 2024 they will by 98 years old! It seems likely that the 80th Anniversary of D-Day in 2024 will be the last major anniversary that many US World War II Veterans will attend.
- What an honor to meet and see these men! You will know them, because most of them wear a baseball cap that says they are a D-Day Survivor. These D-Day Veterans are treated with respect and are rewarded with a standing ovation when they enter the room.
- You will want to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, France. A paved pathway leads into the cemetery and then you walk around a bend in the path. Be prepared. Now you are looking at the stark white crosses that mark each grave of the 9385 US Soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day landings and operations. Then look out to sea and at the beach cliffs and realize what these US soldiers accomplished.
- You will see World War II re-enactors. You may not initially realize they are re-enactors because you will think they are US Soldiers who are serving in the military. hese men—and they are predominantly men- wear US World War II uniforms, drive US World War II Jeeps, have the US World War II tents, and all the gear that US soldiers had during that time. It is amazing! It looks like the United States is invading France again.
- Talk to these re-enactors and find out they are from everywhere in Europe including Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ireland, and all places in between. They camp out in town squares, re-enact battles, and drive those jeeps around. What a tribute to the real US World War II soldiers and veterans!
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About the Author
Charlotte Kimmel, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who retired from her full-time position in 2015 but continues to do some psychology contract work part-time. She and her husband have enjoyed traveling to many places in the last 5 years, including Pearl Harbor for the 75th Anniversary and Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. We look forward to future travel adventures after the COVID-19 virus is contained.