79th D-Day Anniversary: The Return to Normandy

Normandy France 2023 D-Day Anniversary

The Making History Project will return to Normandy this year for the 79th D-Day Anniversary of the Allied landings during World War II. This annual weeklong event is France’s tribute to the sacrifices of Veterans who liberated France during World War II, most notably those of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

This will be my fifth time going to Normandy for the D-Day Anniversary. It is also the very spot where the idea for the Making History Project was born in 2010. Last year’s festivities and memorial dedications were fantastic and well-organized.

Some of the most popular events include the almost daily parades through the major towns (St. Mere Eglise, Caen, Carentan, Port en-Bessin) that would include World War II Veterans, military vehicles, and active duty soldiers of the Allied nations. Every year, more activities and events are added as additional towns and provinces join in the planning.

St Mere Eglise Parade
The Big Parade in St. Mere Eglise

For example, numerous walking tours have been added, both day and night, for the experience of walking in the boots of the liberating troops as they made their way through Normandy. Likewise, numerous base camps are created in the villages where military vehicles and equipment from World War II are displayed. More focus has also been placed on civilian life with picnics and concerts that incorporate the clothing and music of the time.

Normandy is also itself a delight to visit. The Norman medieval villages, country chateaus, rolling farm fields, and single-lane roads through the hedgerows are fun to navigate. It also seems as though new museums, temporary exhibitions, and former battle sites are being added. Whenever I visit, I discover a new museum, restored military site, or bunker.


Of course, the World War II Veterans are the stars. Last year a large contingent of U.S. WWII Veterans participated. It was a fantastic honor to meet and march with them along the streets of St. Mere Eglise. Unfortunately, we are losing these national treasures too fast as they are all in the late nineties. I can only hope they are well-represented this year and can make it for the 80th Anniversary next year.

If you are interested in World War II or military history, I would encourage you to visit Normandy during the 79th D-Day Anniversary week. You can go back in time with a backdrop of a historic place that changed the world. There is no other place or time quite like it. See it now while you still can meet and honor the heroes who gave us freedom.

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About 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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