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J-Jour: 6 juin 1944

Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009) - Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

It is not by chance that I chose to wait until today to make my  first summer 2012 blog post. It was sixty-eight years ago today that my grandfather, PFC Charles "Butch" Boyer, along with hundreds of thousands of brave Allied soldiers stormed the beaches and skies of Normandy in the Allied invasion known the world over as D-Day. Operation Overlord was a combined air and amphibious landing under the supreme command of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Machiavelli once said, "Although the use of fraud in any action is the combat of war it is praiseworthy and glorious. And a man who uses fraud to overcome his enemy is praised, just as much as he who overcomes his enemy by force." Especially if you're on the winning side, I suppose! I use this quote  with my students when I introduce the Deception at Calais. 

The reality is that Hitler was smart and his armed forces were strong. The Allies needed to gain an advantage, but we had to do it with our wit first - then our muscle. All it took was a corpse, a briefcase full of false plans, and a fleet of inflatable tanks...

When the Nazis stumbled upon the washed up corpse of a "General" with an attached briefcase full of plans for an Allied invasion of Calais - the closest point between England and France (made sense). But because Hitler was suspicious, he called for reconnaissance. He knew if this was the real deal, the Allies would be amassing their forces. 

As German planes flew over the white cliffs of Dover, they got their confirmation. From the skies, the battalion of tanks looked like the real deal, and with that Hitler was convinced and planned accordingly. By diverting the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe to Calais,  the Allies were able ensure their victory in both the battle of D-Day, and the war. Of course, this victory came a great cost.
Photo Credit: - Inflatable Tanks Used in the Calais Deception
Normandy Today
Visiting Normandy has been one of the highlights of my life. Next to every French flag flew at least an American flag, if not British and Canadian. 

Below is a photo of German bunkers from the beach. This is just a tiny sample of what our troops faced as they made the amphibious attack.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)
The next two shots are from German artillery bunkers about 7 miles inland. These are some of the bunkers that the nighttime paratrooper invasion attempted to disable in preparation for the amphibious attacks. Their guns had a 10 mile range, so it could shoot and still hit a target 3 miles out at sea.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)

Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)
 The American Cemetery is touching to say the very least. It is difficult to not feel emotionally overwhelmed looking at row upon row of white crosses and stars of David.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)
In the center of the memorial is a reflecting pond and a statue named, "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory."
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)
 In the colonnade that surrounds the statue is inscribed: 
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)
Perhaps the most emotional part of the visit for my husband and his family was to pay our respects to his great-uncle, Edward Switala, who died as a result of wounds he sustained on D-Day. Edward was 19 and had only been married six months when he gave the ultimate sacrifice - his life.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer-Switala (2009)

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I take my 8th graders here every year. I am always touched as I stroll through the cemetery. As we explore the area, I imagine who walked the paths before me and I cannot even begin to imagine what they must have been feeling. Thank you for sharing your story.
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