Sunday, November 16, 2008

We will never forget...

This weekend I took a spontaneous road trip to Bayeux. One of my friends Thomas lives there, and I wanted to go visit both him and the D-Day cemetery at Omaha Beach. Originally I was going to take the bus to the beach, but because it was Saturday, they were shut down. Lame. However, Thomas invited me over for tea and then took me to the museum and beach. His house is unbelievably beautiful!! I seriously cannot tell you how gorgeous his place is. It was built around 1740 (if I remember correctly), and Thomas took all last year restoring it. It is three stories of absolute beauty. Outside there is a garden and some stone walls covered in English ivy. The fireplace has a little soufflier start the fire; most of the floors are wooden; there are 4 bedrooms, each with their own theme; and the parlor where we sat made me feel as though I lived in the glory days of France during Rousseau and Beaumarchais. Thomas used to own a B&B, so the decorations are exquisite and perfectly chosen. I might take him up on his offer to stay there one night!

After tea, we went to Omaha Beach and visited the museum that was constructed last year. It was a very, very good museum: totally modern in appearance, but very detailed in the history of what happened 60 years ago. There was a name database that allowed you to search for soldiers buried there by name, unit, and state. I was easily able to find John Pavlich, the soldier whose grave I visited 5 years ago. They had detailed information on Patton, the Flyboys, what happened on D-Day in 2 hour segments, and plenty of videos and paraphenalia. I learned two very surprising things there: 1. Teddy Roosevelt's son, Teddy Jr., fought and died during Operation Overlord. 2. Saving Private Ryan, one of my favorite films EVER, is actually based on the true story of the Niland brothers. Fritz Niland (James Ryan in the film) was the last brother remaining, so the US government sent him home. It was cool to read all the different stories of people who died there and the sacrifices they gave (some the ultimate sacrifice, others lucky enough to survive).

Pictures: 1. Omaha Beach

2. John Pavlich's cross

3. The brothers whose lives are what Saving Private Ryan is based on

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