Two years ago this week, I hopped on a plane to visit two countries I’d never seen, for a historic anniversary (the 70th anniversary of D-Day). The trip was incredible, despite so much that went wrong.
I flew to Iceland first, desperate to see the strange and wild land on my way to France. I had an incredible first day there in spite of the cold rain that fell most of the day. I walked around Reykjavik, took shelter in Harpa, went horseback riding through lava fields (in the rain), intrigued a cat wandering the harbor and ate.
Once I could finally leave, I flew to Paris after a couple hours in the airport talking to a newlywed couple. The flight was great and I was so happy to be in France … until my luggage wasn’t there with me and I broke down crying in CDG. I’d already been terribly sick and had no clean clothes left. All I wanted was to change before taking the train to Caen. No such luck.
Eventually I bought a train ticket and got directions through the Paris Metro. It turns out navigating certain parts of the Paris Metro is hard for native Parisians, let alone Americans who speak no French. Much time was lost trying to find the Magenta Line, but eventually I found it and running through an entire station to my train, I managed to catch it with less than a minute to spare.
By the time my friends picked me up I was exhausted, dirty, without luggage and starving. But it was the start of a magical few days: from hanging out with Paratrooper reenactors in their tents, to standing on Bloody Omaha as vintage military vehicles drove by, to meeting people from a host of countries who reenact as American soldiers out of gratitude for the U.S. involvement in the war, to parades that took us back in time and meeting active duty U.S. military personnel thrilled to see other Americans.
The absolute highlight was talking with World War II veterans at Normandy American Cemetery, and attending ceremonies there on D-Day (even though getting there and back was one of the biggest headaches of the trip). It was the honor of meeting men like Lucky McGinty and Wilson Colwell, being able to thank them personally for their heroism. That was a memory worth more than everything that had gone wrong the entire trip.
Here a just a few of my favorite images from the amazing trip: