Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day; Richard Keith Sorenson and the Medal of Honor

I know I am a bit late with this post.  But, I had to wait for the dedication of the Veterans Park not far from where I live.

I did not realize that Anoka is home of a Medal of Honor recipient.

Richard Keith Sorenson threw himself on a hand-grenade and saved the lives of 5 other Marines during the battle for Namur Island, in the South Pacific, during WWII.



Every one graduating from Anoka High School should know his name and his story.


It was a cold day.   I was honored to be there.

All gave some.   Some gave all.

Friday, November 9, 2018

French and Belgian Re-enactors

This couple were together.  She was French.


He was Belgian.


They were so charming and helpful when I asked if I could take their photos.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

More D-Day Re-enactors

I was thrilled to see so many people who remembered.



While I was taking photographs, an elderly French gentleman approached me and started speaking to me in French.


I listen quietly, because I don't speak French.  When he finished, I smiled and said, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French."  Then, I pointed to myself and said, "American."

He smiled, grabbed me with both hands and kissed me on both cheeks.  And then he said, "Merci!  Merci!!"


I suspect he was old enough to remember the Germans.


May we never forget the greatest generation that ever lived.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

D-Day Re-enactors

One of the surprises were the numbers of re-enactors.  I was stunned to see WWII jeeps and motorcycles.   I mistakenly assumed most of the people were Americans.  I was wrong.  Nearly everyone I ran into was French.




When I asked where they had gotten the jeeps and motorcycles, they said the US military just left them.  So, they have them now and are keeping them running.

The uniforms were fantastic.


 And, everyone I asked to photograph smiled and said, ""Oui".



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Sainte-Mere-Englise: The Memorial

The first clue we had that this was the planned drop zone during D-Day, was the discovery of a monument to the US paratroopers.  It was essentially in the middle of no-where.  A field, 3 kilometers from the center of the town.   No buildings around it.  Just a memorial.

It was cordoned off for a ceremony so we couldn't get closer.


But, it was wonderful to stand there and know that what happened 74 years ago was still remembered and appreciated.


These three US soldiers were present to take part in the memorial service.  I had a chance to visit with each of them.   It was an honor to visit with them.  And, I felt nothing but pride that they were there.  They did a wonderful job representing the US.   My sincere thanks gentlemen.



Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sainte-Mère-Église: Paratroopers

We were very fortunate to learn that on the day we were going to visit Sainte-Mere-Englise, the US airborne was going to drop over 500 paratroopers in remembrance of D-Day.    We had no idea where to go.  But, as we drove into town, we saw people walking down a very small, paved road that had been closed to traffic.

After a brief question with a local police officer, we were on our way.











There were over 2,000 people that had walked the 3 kilometers to the jump zone.   We found out later that day that this had been the D-Day target drop zone.  Unfortunately, many troops dropped right into the middle of the town and were cut down.

It was awe-inspiring to see 9 vintage WWII planes dropping troops.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Falaise: The Birth Place of William the Conqueror

The ruins of this castle and fortress are across the square from the town church.  It is the birth place of William the Conqueror.   He was the first of the Norman kinds of England.   He was born about 1028 AD.

Of course the castle probably wasn't this complete at that time.  But it was pretty amazing to wander the grounds that he walked and played over 1,000 years ago.



 If you are curious about his history, click here.






Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Falaise

Falaise is a small city in the center of Normandy.  From August 12-21, 1944, the Allies were working to circle a large German force (German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army).  As the Allies circled them, the Falaise pocket was formed.   During the roughly 10 days, 10,000 German troops were killed and 50,000 surrendered.  It was the beginning of the end of the Nazi's.

However, as part of the bombing and destruction of the German defenses, civilians were innocent victims.   It is estimated that nearly 10,000 citizens of Falaise were killed.   And 2/3rds of the city was destroyed in the fighting.  A small museum is across the square from this church.  It is dedicated to the citizens of Falaise.   There didn't appear to be much anger towards the Allies.  The Nazi's were despised.  But the museum don't focus on that much.  It addresses the innocent civilians. 

Here is the church in the center of town.  It wasn't very ornate.  But, you could still see the Gothic style.






I find it fascinating that the churches are, for the most part, open to anyone.  We were able to walk in.  The doors were unlocked.


Friday, October 26, 2018

The Last Night of Music on the Ship

I wanted to mention the wonderful vocalist and pianist.   Over the week, she did an amazing job entertaining us in the evening with a wide variety of musical styles.


There was a lot of dancing, smiling, and laughing all due to her.

Well done.