Last November, a reader named Deb Wood sent the following note in to the Travel with Aging Parents website about a trip she was hoping to take in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing during WWII:
What a great blog! I am just beginning planning for a trip to Normandy this spring with my dad, who is 85, and my uncle, who is 92. Both are in good health, but the potential for medical issues is still a concern, and you have provided me with lots of great resources and information. Thank you! I’ll keep reading.
We exchanged a few e-mails, and I learned a bit more about her family. Her uncle John is one of the 1.2 million American WWII veterans still alive today (he received the Distinguished Flying Cross), and her father is a Korean War veteran (he was too young to serve in WWII). They wanted to make this trip in remembrance of their brother Frank, a paratrooper who participated in the landing at Normandy and died in fighting three weeks later.
Deb promised to keep me posted on her trip, and about two weeks ago I received an e-mail from her with an update. I knew that her careful planning as well as the heartfelt motivation for the trip would make it a success, but I could not have predicted just how much of a success it turned out to be!
Deb and her family visited tons of historic sites (including several with historic significance), made friends with locals and fellow tourists alike, and built some amazing memories together. She wrote an amazing travel blog about her trip, and rather than try to summarize her experiences here (I wouldn’t do them justice!), I’ll just mention a few of them:
- The fantastic house they rented in Fresville for a week
- Their time with a terrific Normandy tour guide (they made arrangements with him before leaving the USA) who took them to nine different locations that were related to her uncle Frank.
- The village of Vindefontaine, outside of which Deb’s uncle Frank was killed on June 28, 1944:
- A very moving visit to the museum at Utah Beach:
- A visit to the Pegasus Memorial and Museum, which was on Deb’s dad’s “must see” list:
I strongly encourage you to read all of Deb’s blog, which describes the week she, her dad, her uncle, and her husband spent together in France visiting several WWII-related sites, experiencing French culture, and meeting lots of interesting people. “Everywhere we went during our time in Normandy,” she writes, “we were struck by the genuine affection the people there have for WWII vets, and their enduring gratitude for the role the US played in the liberation of their country.”
If you’ve ever thought about a taking trip to this part of the world, you’ll find plenty of ideas in Deb’s blog! And anyone—regardless of age or destination—can find inspiration in the “We can do this!” outlook Deb, her father, and her uncle share.
They say that “a picture is worth one thousand words.” Between the poignant photos and Deb’s well-crafted journal entries, I feel like I’ve managed to read an entire book about this travel adventure. And it was a real page-turner, too: I loved reading all the details and was sorry to reach the end of the trip!
Fortunately, it looks like a sequel may be in the works! In one post, Deb writes, “My dad has decided we need to return in five years for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. And he wants the rest of the family to come too.”
Thanks for sharing your adventures Deb and I can’t wait to read about your next trip!