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Caen and D-Day June 11, 2012

Posted by Joshua Price in Travel Log.
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Compared to the other cities that I have visited during this trip, Caen is not very well known.  It is located near the eastern coast of France in the Normandy region.  Its location is quite strategic and military action in the city is not a recent development.  As early as the tenth century, there was a fortress built in Caen.  Today, much of the structure has crumbled, but there are still parts that are intact. The picture below describes the condition of it quite well.  The location in the picture is where non-combatant inhabitants would go during an attack on the fortress.  This is one of the oldest things that I have seen since arriving in Europe, it is approximately one thousand years old.

The main reason we went to Caen this weekend was because of the D-day anniversary last Wednesday.  In Caen, there is a memorial museum that highlights the sacrifices made on D-Day and the impact that this one battle had on the war.

The sacrifices I mentioned were obvious throughout the city.  There are many cemeteries and memorials that commemorate those that were deported by the Nazis or perished in battle.  Though we were mainly in an area that was significantly impacted by the D-Day invasion itself, it is important to remember that it wasn’t just one battle, it was an entire war, which gives a greater perspective as to the number of people that died defending their beliefs and ideologies, be it on the Allied or Axis side of the battle.  It highlights the fact that war is not pretty, it isn’t simple and it isn’t superficial.

One of the most striking things we found in Caen was a memorial at the Fortress that was built in the tenth century for those that died on D-Day and in the subsequent fighting that allowed the Allied forces to reach the city of Caen.  Specifically, the memorial is for all of the soldiers that died between June 6th and July 14th.  Here is a picture of the memorial with flowers located at its base.  The fact that people remember that day so clearly even more than sixty years later gives a greater perspective as to the importance of the day in ending the Second World War.  The memorial is similar in purpose to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the United States.

Knowing as you walk down the streets that approximately sixty years ago there were bombs being dropped, mortars being fired, the sound of machine guns, and the sacrifice of the lives of many young men is an experience that adds understanding of how brutal World War really is.

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