At sea on the Royal Viking Sun, June 6, 1994 – As a WWII veteran, I 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.
It was 75 years ago, on June 6, 1944, that 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 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 many upset passengers and the captain was flooded with complaints and questions.
Sandra 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 access to these June 6 events was the main reason for taking this particular cruise. Those of us that received cancellations did receive a letter of apology from the Royal Viking Sun’s Shore Excursion Manager. 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, we seasoned WWII vets didn’t buy that.
The atmosphere aboard ship that day was solemn as those who had stormed the bloody beaches on June 6, 1944 recalled the horrific events of that day, thought about the losses of their comrades, and wondered why they were the lucky ones…
Excerpted from the upcoming memoir Author, Publisher, Marketing Man, 1990-2015, by William and Sandra McGee. Final post June 8. All D-Day Posts