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I made a trip to France earlier this year, including visits to the American Military Cemetery in Normandy.  It is kept with reverent and loving care on the bluff overlooking the beach where on D-Day, allied forces came ashore under heavy German fire.  (See The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan, for example.)

Visitor Center, American Military Cemetery
American Military Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France
I wanted to share some pictures from the trip, but it seemed off topic during election season. It makes sense to post them today, on Veteran's Day.  Originally Armistice Day, when the world innocently thought there could be a war to end all war.

The French guard their language jealousy.  They don't readily accept vocabulary of foreign provenance.  But this?  It's Omaha Beach, and that's what everyone calls it.  It's marked on French maps and highway signs as "Omaha Beach."

Omaha Beach, seen from the American Military Cemetery

D-Day Monument, Omaha Beach

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery

American Military Cemetery
Unidentified remains, through DNA work of late, continue to be identified and repatriated to relations at home.  So far, the "final resting place" has been less than permanent.  Many of these graves have been redug and moved numerous times.  It's no wonder the French are often reluctant to launch into new wars; their countryside has been deeply scarred, their soil absorbed so much spilled blood.

American Military Cemetery
A waiter in a cafe told us about the German Military Cemetery nearby at La Cambe.  It's right by the national limited access highway, and heavily planted around to give it insulation from the neighbors.  It's got more war dead buried there than the other foreign military cemeteries.  The tone is somber.

from an informational sign at the German Military Cemetery
German Military Cemetery, Normandy

from the interpretive center at the Germany Military Cemetery; international youth work crew
Young men dug foxholes during the war.  Graves after it was over.

work crew at German Military Cemeterry
The German Military Cemetery in Normandy is supported by private donations and voluntary labor.

German Military Cemetery

German Military Cemetery

German Military Cemetery

German Military Cemetery
There are no Stars of David in the German cemetery.  But there's nothing beyond crosses and stars in the American cemetery either, though one can be reasonably certain there were soldiers of some other faiths (Sikhs or Muslims; Buddhists or Hindus) might be marked.

German Military Cemetery
Up towards Belgium, there's big military cemeteries from World War I, too.  Hardly anyone's still living who remembers the people buried at Flanders Field and other military cemeteries.  But the burial grounds continue to be well tended and cared for.  Though one assumes that, over the centuries, the causes the soldiers died for will be forgotten and they will gradually fall to ruin.

South and west of the D-Day beaches, along the Atlantic coast of Brittany, there's many arrays of megaliths, some extending for over a mile.  They've been there around 6,000 years.  No one knows what they were for, but burial sites have been ruled out, though there are a few burial sites interspersed amongst them.

Part of a vast array of stone

Part of a vast array of stone

Part of a vast array of stone

Originally posted to Land of Enchantment on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Headwaters, History for Kossacks, DKos Travel Board, and DKos Military Veterans.

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