This is rather off topic, but I thought I would share another then-and-now set of photos from our recent trip. While we were in Normandy, we visited several of the D-Day sites, memorials, cemeteries, etc. One of these was Omaha Beach. I understand that one of the things that made June 6th, 1944, so incredibly difficult for the American soldiers landing on that beach was, in fact, the beach itself … it’s incredibly wide and flat and completely without cover from the gunfire that rained down on them. Those same features, especially if one is visiting on a cool, gray day when hardly anyone else is there, now make the beach a remarkably beautiful, peaceful place.

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As we were leaving the beach, we walked for a bit along the trails on the dunes, which are now a nature preserve and filled with greenery, flowers, and birds …

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And then we happened on to this, just over the crest of the dunes:

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The visitor-information plaque says, “On 6 June, at around 10 a.m., hundreds of men were stuck on this beach amongst the destroyed landing crafts. In front of them was the small Ruquet valley, protected by two fortified points. Today, all that is visible is one large gun in its blockhouse [above]. It was hit by fire from an approaching vessel 1 km (1,000 yards) away, and was destroyed for good by a ‘half-track.’ The U.S. engineers immediately opened this road toward the plateau, and at around 3 p.m., the heavy U.S. equipment took this first, and only, cleared exit from the Omaha site. The 1st Division ‘Big Red One’ used the blockhouse as a command post, and soon, thousands of GIs took this road to liberty.”

This photo, from the information plaque, shows a 1944 view of the same blockhouse we visited, from about the same vantage point.

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