Nobody can deny the intense emotion felt as we visited the “Memorial”in Caen. The building does exactly what it should do “remind us of actions and events” that must never be banalized.
The heartbreaking effects of invasion and war on a country and its’ population were evident in each step of our visit. The timeline of WW11 in the historical film contextualized the devastation that occurred and yet it also brought to the fore resistance,hope and and solidarity to fight off the enemy and free the nation. Joint forces strength and stamina on D-Day and beyond helped liberate France and their input has never been forgotten.
All the students visited one exhibition on site. Symbols and objects came to life as each phase of the war(s) was/were depicted in overhead planes, military vehicles, flags, official documents, family photos,black and white film reel,clothing, maps, sketches and letters. Vivid explanations of extermination means and marking systems such as the yellow cross and tattoos were exhibited.
Teachers and students alike studied the texts and the objects and symbols with sorrowful, bewildered eyes. There was an eerie silence during the visit as we witnessed the past and found some similar comparisons with the present around the world. Our students showed interest and empathy and were attentive to explanations from the History teacher.
Visiting one of the cemeteries afterwards was another speechless occasion as the hundreds of white crosses, stars and crescent tombs once again reflected the loss of life fighting against “injustice”. Looking down on the long stretches of barren coastline and grassy dunes, the ghosts of the past could be felt by more than one. We tried to make out the silhouette of England from afar before we headed Longue-sur-mer to see the authentic canon battery. Breezy Omaha beach was our last but not least stop,before leaving Norman soil direction Brittany.
So much to take in again and again, never to be forgotten…keep the memories alive so that History won’t repeat itself ever again.