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.
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.