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A trip to France: Flyovers and reenactments highlight Normandy’s D-Day festival

Sixteen days of events in Normandy are now over marking D-Day in France, remembering the many heroes who lost their lives there but also celebrating their independence.

10 News brought you many of the events that marked the 80th anniversary of June 6 both here in Bedford and overseas.

But now, we’re going to give you a first-hand look at what it was like to be there. 10 News Anchor Jenna Zibton and her family took a trip to Normandy, arriving on June 7. It was an experience they will never forget for a myriad of reasons.

Normandy is a special place. The region in France is made up of small towns where major events happened during World War II. Over the course of about three days, we managed to see just some of the monumental places where history was changed forever. There are many ways to see these sites; you can do it on your own, with a tour group or hire a private guide. We were lucky to be there when millions of others were too and really get a look at so many things you wouldn’t see outside of the 80th anniversary events.

There were parades all over the region. We saw the D-Day Memorial Parade in France at Sainte-Mère-Eglise, led by Benedictine Schools of Richmond. American Veterans were welcomed and honored by thousands as part of the more than two weeks of events to mark D-Day in Normandy.

The streets all over the region were filled with vintage American military vehicles, people dressed like U.S. soldiers and airmen and smiles as thousands from all over the world came to celebrate 80 years since troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany.

Sixteen days of events all over the coastline called the D-Day Festival Normandy. More than 100 events from flyovers, to fireworks to historical re-enactments.

We saw vintage jeeps, battle tanks, trenches dug out to show us what it was like then and an organ used during World War II for church services.

Most of the people dressed up like American military from WWII were French – much to our surprise. There were also many current service members from all over the world in uniform visiting the same sites we were.

My family walked on the beaches giving our daughter a glimpse at history. Although at 6 years old, she doesn’t understand the great importance just yet.

She found the flyovers incredible seeing many C-47s AND C-130S overhead throughout the trip.

At a museum on Omaha Beach, we saw a tribute to the Bedford Boys. Their pictures were posted along with newspaper clippings explaining the 20 killed from the community. The highest per capita sacrifice made by any American community on D-Day.

The trip ended with TAPS at the American Cemetery in Normandy, with thousands of people pausing to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

As we were leaving, I saw this quote from Sgt. John Ellery of the 1st Infantry Division: “You can manufacture weapons and you can purchase ammunition, but you can’t buy valor and you can’t pull heroes off an assembly line.”

WSLS News 10

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