Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Normandy Continued

Hello everyone!

This is Lydia's lesser half here to update you on our French adventure. Last I checked, she left you stranded in the middle of our Normandy trip. After our wonderful day at the Mont St. Michel and our visit to the Bayeux Tapestry, we began our 6-hour tour of the D-Day landing beaches. If you ever come visit the Normandy beaches, personally I recommend at least one full day. Anything less just doesn't do it justice. Also, although the tours are often expensive, if you can find a good tour guide it is worth it. Since I'm kind of a history nut AND I'd already been here before, I was the tour guide.

We started out our day at Sainte-Mere-Eglise. 

This was the first city liberated by Allied forces following the D-Day landing. Here we talked about how France fell to Germany so quickly and the status of Allied and German troops in the area prior to D-Day. I talked about the allied air invasion (101st and 82 Airborne divisions) landing behind German lines before the main assault on the beaches, and a whole bunch of other really interesting stuff. If you pay for my flight out to France, maybe I'll take you on the same tour.

After this visit, we traveled about 8 kilometers away to see a small 12th century chapel in Angoville-au-Plain. We visited this chapel on my first tour here and I thought it was so unique that I brought everyone back. Two American medics set up a field first aid station in the chapel and treated 80 German and American troops while the fight continued outside. The town changed hands three times before the Americans took it over for good. The interior still has blood stains, bullet holes, and now has stained glass windows honoring the two medics who stayed there.

German head wound

We picnic-ed at Utah Beach which was just a few kilometers away from Angoville. Utah Beach is undergoing some museum renovations so we couldn't really do much there, but I gave our group an idea of what the allied battle plan was, how the German defenses were set up, and how the landing at Utah beach went. Utah Beach was one of the two American invasion beaches.

Following Utah, we drove to Pointe-du-Hoc, a cliffside where three companies of Army Rangers climbed up the cliff, took the gun battery at the top, and held off German reinforcements until Allied troops came to relieve them. There were originally 225 soldiers - by the time they were relieved only 90 were still alive and capable of fighting. The bluff is covered with craters from bombardments leading up to the Normandy invasion. We couldn't spend a lot of time here which is unfortunate because this is probably the most "interactive" of all the visits we made (bunkers, craters, a gorgeous view, etc).

Omaha beach was just down the road. This was the "worst" beach for all the allied troops where virtually nothing went right. When you think of the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, this is the beach you should think about. To compare, Utah beach was taken with less than 200 casualties. Omaha beach had over 6,000. Here I dissected the Allied attack plan and showed where things went wrong and why it took so long and so many lives to take the beach.

Finally, we ended the day at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. We easily spent two hours here and just took time to reflect on what we'd seen, visit their self-tour (which built upon everything I'd already told them) and then spent a lot of time walking among the graves. It was our pre-Memorial Day celebration. It is a beautiful location: very serene and a wonderful tribute to everyone who is buried there. God bless America.
Lydia liked the "portable" radio station

In other news, my internship at the Embassy has been exciting. I'm working on events that should go a long way in connecting American businesses and European service providers in the Green Energy, Aerospace, and general business sectors. Basically, we team up with corporate partners to create events where businesses can exchange information, market expertise, and financing options while we provide market research and regulatory expertise. The only downside is that I won't be here to see most of my projects come to fruition.

I got to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Ambassador's residence the other day. She gave a brief speech about how she appreciates the staff at the American Tri-mission in Paris (State, UNESCO, and one other that I can't remember, maybe OECD). It was just a simple meet and greet, but it was something that doesn't happen every day. Yesterday we had the official Marine Corps silent drill platoon come and drill for the Ambassador, international politicians and military guests. It was quite impressive. After the drill was over, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps came and played some patriotic anthems and - you'll never guess - "Don't Rain on My Parade" which was doubly funny because it was threatening rain that morning and it just isn't something you'd expect from such a formal band. I've often said that I don't like marching bands, but this one - though perhaps not technically better than others - actually makes sense from the uniforms to the marching to the perfect formations. It was a thing of beauty. Afterwards they all came out and mingled with us on the Ambassador's lawn and I spoke with a Lance Corporal in the silent drill team. He was from Phoenix and quite an impressive guy. It was a nice way to celebrate Memorial Day, especially in a country like France where our soldiers came twice to serve with European allies in the cause of freedom.

I applied for my first full time position ever. Though I don't particularly want to work for the federal government, a position had opened up as a commercial specialist in the consulate in Bordeaux. It's something that Lydia and I have long considered, so even though I still have one year of school left and I don't have a work permit for France, I decided to apply anyway and get my name out there.  It also helps that the job was specifically a training level position, NOT in Paris (Paris is nice, but I'd take a smaller city, especially Bordeaux, any day), and it is close to Lydia's family. Plus, it is good practice to revamp resumes and cover letters for different jobs. My career hunt starts in earnest in August as Operation Become a Real Person begins.

Since you are all bored now, I'll sign off and let Lydia keep posting more interesting things. All the best,



  1. Hey Lydia you don't know me but I am Katie Pulsipher's mom. I served my mission in France and was in the Talence branch for half my mission. Your family was so awesome. I love your aunts Adeline and Veronique. They were so welcoming and helpful to the sister missionaries. Your dad was the director of the youth choir and did such a great job. I love reading your blog and seeing news of your family. I hope that doesn't seem weird. I was sister ellis when i served my mission. Your family was such a stalwart in the Bordeaux area. Tell your aunts hi for me if you get the chance! Great blog!

  2. Oh that's not weird at all--how neat! I'll have to tell my family about you next time I go down. My mom also served in that mission; in fact that's how she met my dad. She would have served in 85-86-87 ish. She was sister DeLucien, I wonder if you knew her!

    Thanks for stopping by--isn't it such a small world?!