Making History Project
"Preserving Veterans' Stories"
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

2022 Trip to Normandy

I was in France for fifteen days this past May and June for the 78th Anniversary of D-Day. This was my fourth trip to Normandy and it is always amazing. The appreciation and hospitality of the French in Normandy are second to none.

World War II Veterans

More importantly, being able to see and speak with returning World War II Veterans in the very place that they helped to liberate is a surreal experience. Seeing all of their accomplishments in the numerous museums throughout the area puts it all in perspective.

World War II Vehicles and Norman Villages

Roaming those same beaches, roads, hedgerows, fields, villages, and battlefields is immersive history. During this time, those roads and villages are packed with vehicles and equipment from the war including tanks, halftracks, and jeeps.

Omaha Beach

But most important of all, visiting the cemeteries for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice is a sobering reminder of the cost of war. As most Veterans will relate, the true heroes of the war are those that did not come home.

American Cemetery at Omaha Beach

Historical Context

D-Day, was one of the largest ever airborne and amphibious invasions in history. The success of the operation against a well-prepared and determined defender was not a foregone conclusion. With so many moving parts and variables, the invasion could have easily turned sidewise and turned into a disaster.

Based on the overwhelming combined forces of the Allies, the D-Day invasion overwhelmed the Nazis and became the pivotal event for liberating all of Europe during World War II. Anyone with a remote interest in history or World War II, in particular, should make a real effort to visit Normandy to see this extraordinary place and the incredible celebrations they host during the first week of June.

Living History

Given the advanced age of World War II Veterans, a priority should be made to see Normandy in the next two years so you can speak with these national treasures while you can. Presently, most World War II Veterans are 98 years old or older. While 2024 will be the big event for the 80th Anniversary, it is unknown how many Veterans will be able to return at that time due to their health.

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About Author

Patrick Russell

Director and oral historian for the Making History Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Veteran stories for future generations. Resides in Miami, Florida, where he is a full-time mediator and has been a practicing lawyer since 1994. Proudly serves as a staff member for the University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, in addition to being a member of the Oral History Association, American Historical Association; Friends and Family of the 508 P.I.R.; and the Battle of the Bulge Association. Graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in Political Science, and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Additional courses and workshops for oral history and museum studies have been taken at Baylor University and Harvard University, Harvard Extension School. Contact info: (305) 608-2977 or patrick@making-history-project.com

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