There were lots of men and women in uniform. This shot wasn't staged -- these two men were just standing there, looking out on the beaches (to their left) and the Utah memorial (directly ahead).
One of the many monuments to specific brigades or divisions along the beaches.
Dozens of museums dot the landscape of Normandy. You could spend weeks here and still not see everything, I think.
Cleared from the beaches long ago, many of the beach obstacles live on elsewhere, as a reminder. This tank faces inland, its back to the beach.
Facing roughly eastward down Utah Beach.
The view from the sea, headed inland. The curved building is the back of the Utah Beach museum.
Looking northwest along Utah Beach.
There were hundreds of Jeeps and other military vehicles all over the area, many giving rides.
An immaculate WWII ambulance. No rust. This can't live here, right?
An Army truck of...some kind. My WWII vehicle knowledge is more plane-based. Anyone?
Heading down the coast, the next beach area was known as Omaha. Easily the biggest battle of the day, with 3,600 Allied casualties, more than 1 in 10 of the 34,250 soldiers who landed that day.
Thanks to the on-and-off rain, a rainbow appeared right as I was taking these pictures.
Looking down towards the main assault areas.
Now, you can buy a house right on Omaha Beach. I wonder how much the owners know of the war and this beach's importance.
Interestingly, a rusted out gun is still here, sitting in stagnant water.
This is the big hill overlooking what I believe was the section called Fox Green, one of several monuments. What thoughts does that gentleman have, reading the names inscribed?
This is the view from one of the casemates overlooking Omaha Beach.
Looking east toward Fox Red.
The remains of a gun emplacement.
One of a handful of casemates that are slowly falling apart.
Dirt has largely filled in the entranceway, but you can still enter in a crouch. This is the view looking out.
These gents were racing, I think.
One of two larger casemates, you can walk into the main section where the gun once was.
Not much to look at now. Standing water, mud, even some graffiti.
The second major casemate, the top is home to another monument (which possibly has been damaged, as it was wrapped in plastic).
The view is roughly westward. Note the tracks on the floor, where I believe the gun turret would have swiveled.
Rusty, yet still standing after all these years.
The rays of the setting sun frame this Jeep nicely. The sun sets at 10pm this time of year.
The remains of some spirited beach driving.
I came back the next morning. This picture was taken 6:30am, the same time the first Higgins boats were hitting the beach, 70 years earlier. Notice how light it is already.
A view similar to what the soldiers tasked with taking Fox Green would have seen, plus 70 years of foliage.
Fox Red's slightly less daunting task.
Looking up the hill toward the remains of the German casemates, from the water.
These are one of the only remains of anything on the beaches from those days. I believe they're prefab concrete blocks meant as a base for the temporary docks they built after the beaches were cleared.
At the entrance end of the cemetery is this stone half-circle memorial, with the "The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves"statue in the center.
To the sides of the main monument, huge maps diagram the invasion of Normandy and Europe at large.
It took my brain a second to comprehend, as the map is flipped (to me, anyway).
Again, the map is flipped around, but here you can see the boats that were involved in the beach landings.
All throughout the cemetery, WWII veterans were followed by groups of all ages. Pictures taken, autographs signed, hands shaken, these men were treated like rock stars. (I even overheard one of them saying so.)
As it should be.
For the official presentations, this set is erected in front of the main monument. Look at all the seats.
Tom Brokaw was here for NBC News, interviewing many of the veterans who had returned for the 70th anniversary observance.
In the center of the cemetery is this small, round chapel. Around it are benches where several veterans were sitting, talking to small groups of people, signing autographs, and having their pictures taken.
The stage is somewhere in the distance. There's going to be a lot of people here, as there should be.