D-day 80 years on

For me, D-day has a familiar perception. Not because I was there, duh!, but because of what happened when I was young. When I was 7, we as a family moved from Lincolnshire to Le Havre in France. Dad had managed to get promoted to managing a paint factory there (Celomer), a subsidiary of the British company Courtaulds (which is no more) where he worked, and so we all went over there for, as it turned out, three years. For me, it certainly was an adventure for sure. Not only having to learn French, but because we were just over the Seine river from Normandy. This would have been 20 years after D-day.

Of course, we visited the three main cemeteries: the British one at Bayeux, the American on at Colleville-sur-mer, and the German one at La Cambe. Not only that, but we’d go to Omaha Beach, Arromanches-les-Bains, and other familiar names along the coast. Because it was only 20 years after World War II, there were still lots of bunkers dotted around the countryside, some still even with barrels, which we’d play in. For a 7 year old, it certainly made a deep, deep impression.

I think it was in 1984 that I and my then wife went on a camping vacation in Normandy. We visited the D-day sites and the cemeteries and, to this day, I just remember how deserted they were. My photos of the time (on slides, no less!), showed no other people around. Must’ve been lucky.

Then, boom, I moved to the US, I started working for TurboPower Software, and in 1994 I went to my first Borland Conference in Orlando, just outside Walt Disney World. I so remember waking up on one of the mornings to get ready to man the booth, turning on the TV and seeing the news about the D-day commemorations. Yes, it was June 6th, and it was the 50 year ceremonies. I had to sit down, tears in my eyes.

The last time I was in Normandy? September 2002. Let’s just say that I miss it greatly.

British cemetary at Bayeux

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