June 6, 2019 is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day…the landing of the Allies on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. In a series of brief posts, Bill and I remember the highlights of our visit to Normandy in June 1994 for the 50th Anniversary.
Aboard the Royal Viking Sun, June 6, 1994 – As a World War II veteran, Bill had priority booking for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day ceremonies on June 6 at Pointe du Hoc, and then the U.S. Cemetery where President Clinton would speak.
The night before these big events, those of us aboard the Royal Viking Sun, who were booked for the excursions to Pointe du Hoc and the U.S. Cemetery, received notice that the excursions were cancelled and we weren’t going. Needless to say, there were upset passengers and the captain was flooded with complaints and questions.
Bill and I ended up watching the solemn ceremonies commemorating “the longest day” on CNN in our cabin aboard ship. It was anti-climatic, to say the least, as having priority access to these June 6 events was one of the reasons for taking this particular cruise. Those of us that received cancellations did get a letter of apology from the Royal Viking Sun’s Shore Excursion Manager. In the letter, he explained that the cancellations were due to certain French dignitaries, who, at the last minute, decided to attend the ceremonies, thus creating a need for additional security. Needless to say, the seasoned WWII vets didn’t buy that.
The atmosphere aboard ship that day was solemn as those who had stormed the bloody beaches 75 years ago were remembering the horrific events of that day. The Allied invasion of Normandy commenced on five beaches code-named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah, with troops from the United States landing on Omaha and Utah, Britain landing on Gold and Sword, and Canada landing on Juno. The comrades who made it through “the longest day” were wondering why they were one of the lucky ones.