Today marks the 69th anniversary of D-Day and all along the coast of Normandy, from the little town of Sainte Mère Eglise to the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the French are remembering the occasion with ceremonies, parades, and festivals in honor of the 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation in World War II.
Visiting the American cemetery in Normandy is not for the faint of heart. While there, I felt a tremendous sense of national pride and extreme sadness. After reading the monuments and visiting the grave sites of fallen soldiers, I stood at the northern edge of the cemetery and looked out at the water. It was a warm and sunny day in July, yet the sea was stark and gray. It churned with incredible force, and I could only imagine what those men must have endured as they came ashore.
By the end of that fateful day in 1944, more than 9,000 soldiers lay dead or wounded on the beach.