06 June, 2012 – Day Seven: “Remembering Those Who Served”
By Seth Pelletier USAFA Cadet
The circumstances of today afforded both me and the veterans an extra hour of sleep which we were all grateful for. After the late start, we picked the vets up at their chateau and began the bus ride to Pegasus Bridge.
On the way to the bridge, Mr. Davis stopped the bus driver and afforded all of the travelers the opportunity to spend fifteen minutes at the Canadian Cemetery which was directly off the road. As I strolled through the cemetery and read several of the tombstone inscriptions, I saw many that read “North Brunswick North Shore.” As a product of New Brunswick roots myself, I was especially touched by these inscriptions which reminded me of my heritage and caused me to consider that many of the bodies that lay in that cemetery were more than joint partners in the war, but in some cases relatives to my family who were merely separated by the St. John River on the New Brunswick-Maine border.
Following our time at the Canadian Cemetery, we made our way to Pegasus Bridge where a British tour guide gave the veterans a detailed tour of the structure itself and the events surrounding the operation. It was particularly interesting to hear a British viewpoint on one of the most famed British ventures of Operation Overlord. The veterans all appeared very interested in the tour and my assigned veteran, Mr. Luckadoo, an avid glider pilot in his younger years, remarked on the enjoyment he received from examining the Horsa glider replica on exhibit at the museum.
After we completed the tour at the Pegasus Bridge, we travelled to Sword beach for the commemoration ceremony. Military leaders and officials from several prominent countries that took place in the landings there joined us for the ceremony reminding me of the solidarity all of our countries share to this day as a result of the war. Halfway through the commemoration, a torrential downpour forced us to hustle the veterans to the bus. Despite the abbreviated ceremony, the veterans were still able to enjoy the concert given by the military bands following the ceremony.
After an hour or so at the concert, we travelled to Arromanches with the vets for dinner. I was impressed by the British “Mulberry” harbors as were many of the veterans. The sheer magnitude of the structures reminded all of us of the ingenuity the allies employed to sustain the overall force, even after the beachheads were firmly established.
Following such a long day, the veterans were more than prepared for a good night of rest. For my part I was exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to share these priceless experiences with these American heroes who remind me every day of the tremendous sacrifice they made for peace and freedom.