We stayed in Normandy for just a day and a night in a little town called Bayeux (Bay-you) where the streets were narrow and quiet. Our hotel—a tiny, rustic style building right in the middle of town—was an authentic French cottage with a tiny water closet, a lever that pulled up to flush, and real wooden shutters . Dad had to lean his whole body out the window to pull them shut at night. Though different from some of the luxurious hotels we stayed at in Paris and London, the hotel was a true French experience with a charming local atmosphere. Just down the narrow, cobbled street was a massive cathedral, towering high above the tiny French buildings—it was almost too big for the village, but that made it all the more magnificent.
Along the drive, we stopped at Omaha Beach, Point Du Hoc, and the Normandy American cemetery—a tour through June 6 where the soldiers marched through the raging waves, scaled steep cliffs, and took over the German forces. Standing on the beaches where one of the most influential attacks in our world's history took place, was incredibly moving—without the sacrifices of these young men, our world could have been a very different place. Even more emotional was standing in the cemetery where thousands of little marble crosses and David stars dot the green grass, marking each individual life lost in the battle, forever remembering them as young, brave soldiers. Several times, shivers crept down my spine—partly from the emotion, and partly because of the wicked winds that nearly knocked me off my feet.