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    • A great friend and I went for coffee last week and he said he booked bed & breakfasts in Paris and Normandy for the week of festivities and why don’t I come? I could leech off him, all I needed was airfare.

      Turns out it’s a huge deal. Vintage planes are recreating their flights from America with stops to refuel in Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, and Ireland. They will drop parachuters in vintage costumes with round parachutes, there will be celebratory dancing in the streets in vintage clothing, yada. I’ll take photos and post updates on Cake.

      My friend put me in charge of the schedule. Help?

    • No but it made me think. Our WWII veteran neighbor that I admired so much seemed really pleased at the way we remember and honor the people who sacrificed so much in the war. He even loved the celebrations of what was achieved. He thought the tragedy of Vietnam is we never did that because we became ashamed of that war, and we questioned the men and women who served.

    • there is a fantastic war museum in Caen.

      I was at Omaha Beach in 2004, it's wide open, just a tiny ridge to take shelter from machine gun fire. When you see it, you understant how the losses were so high. I stood on a german machine gun emplacement and the field of fire covered the whole beach.

      Watch saving private ryan before you go... and / or read The longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan,

      To set the mood and to brush up on the history of the invasion.

      and the Cemetary nearby is a must see ( as seen in opening credits in Saving Private Ryan).

      the coasat is dotted with memorial sites, Pegasus Bridge is a great place to visit, site of the British airborne glider landing to capture said bridge

      North along the peninsula to St Mere Eglise, the church steeple where John Steele hung from is commemorated:

      Longues-sur-Mer battery is also worth a look

      hope this gives you a few ideas

    • I know this is the wrong war (!), but after seeing so many recommendations for this film on ADVRider, I decided to watch it last night (in honor of Memorial Day). It’s on Amazon.

      WWI was actually the beginning of WWII. Hitler was a soldier who fought in WWI.

    • wow! I think it will be an incredible experience for you. I look forward to your updates

    • I went to the theater to see They Shall Not Grow Old with my friend Phil, the same guy who invited me to France for the D-Day commemoration.

      We thought Peter Jackson's film was a masterpiece and an incredible feat of technology & artistry. On the one hand it was a horror to watch because wars are so awful, but on the other hand, the need to understand what wars really are seems so very critical.

      What did you think?

    • I agree that it is an amazing look into regular people’s lives and experiences back then, and an awesome technological feat to combine the Story Corps type narratives with the original (“updated”) footage. Peter Jackson did a great thing.

      It is also very depressing.

      The futility these soldiers felt when they came home—it reminded me of the same feelings many women described after WWII. In the absence of so many men who went off to war, women were actively recruited and valued for their intelligence and unique skills. When The War was over, everyone just assumed the women would (and should) go back to being cooks, cleaners, and housekeepers. It was a very difficult adjustment—just as the soldiers from WWI described how they came home from a focused, important assignment and found themselves treated as left-overs. Augh.

      One other thing that really struck me: every person in those visuals looked completely unique. This was before the cult of celebrity we live with now; people didn’t mimic “a look” like they do now. Very interesting.

    • While most 21-year-olds spent the night of their birthday celebrating, Maureen Sweeney was painstakingly taking barometer and thermometer readings at the remote Blacksod weather station on Ireland’s west coast.

      Her extraordinary - and unknown - role in altering the course of World War Two, saving countless lives, is detailed in a new RTE documentary.

      Although Ireland may have been neutral in the Second World War this documentary sheds light on how De Valera sanctioned the passing on of weather readings to the allies which proved pivotal to the date of D-Day.

      The readings from Mayo were crucial as they were the first sign of weather coming across the Atlantic two days in advance.

      General Eisenhower originally planned D-day for June 5, but it was postponed after Maureen reported a dramatic drop in low pressure on June 3 pointing to an impending storm over the invasion beaches.

      “She’s out on her 21st birthday at one in the morning doing a weather observation and what does she spot but the change in pressure, the pressure falling away was the red flag.”

      The storm that Maureen observed coming in from the Atlantic was set to hit the Normandy beaches 500 miles away in two days on June 5, the original date for D-Day.

      The documentary reveals how Eisenhower had no choice but to stall the 160,000 troops on nearly 7,000 ships, along with thousands of airmen, as stormy conditions and poor visibility would have played havoc with the landing.

      But on June 4, Maureen Sweeney was back at work reading the barometer and the thermometer - crude instruments by today’s standards but critically important weather predicators.

      “She completely oblivious to the decisions that were going to be taken in the next while that were at least partly dependent on what she was doing”, said former RTE weather forecaster Ger Fleming.

      Her routine was to take another dramatic turn, as on the afternoon of June 4th she began to see a rise in pressure which signalled there was going to be a clear window of weather on June 6th.

      Maureen’s updated readings were passed on to General Eisenhower who gave the signal to invade on June 6.

      Critically, this was also a reading which the Germans were unable to gauge as they had no weather ships in the north Atlantic so they couldn’t see the change in the pressure.

      “The weather information that the Germans had in the lead up to D-Day basically suggested that a big storm was coming and it would be impossible for any allied armada to land anywhere in northern France", said Robert Gerwart, Professor of Modern History at UCD.

      “Lots of senior officers, including Rommel himself, took a few days off.

      "Rommel went to Germany for his wife’s birthday, so in this context the much more accurate weather reading the Allies had proved to be a huge advantage."

      The flotilla of 160,000 men by land and sea was all dependent on the meticulous readings of one west of Ireland woman. 11, 500 aircraft flew across the channel.

      Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of the US General, said there was so much at stake.

      “I think Nazi Germany could not imagine in their wildest dreams would be crazy enough to make the assault on that day.”