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Celebrating the Liberation of the Only British Soil Occupied During World War II

The crowd assembled in Liberation Square gripped their small British flags, eagerly awaiting the moment when re-enactors would come pouring into the plaza, dressed in vintage WWII uniforms. As the last strains of “Beautiful Jersey” faded away, cadets from the Royal Jersey Militia Army mounted a rear wall and came rushing through the…

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We Don’t Profit on the Backs of the Dead

My guide from the Mémorial de Caen Museum, Rosine Champion, leaned against a low seawall and held up photos of the giant rolls of barbed wire and semi-submerged iron hedgehogs that Germans installed on Omaha Beach during World War II to thwart potential invasions. Shivering in the blustery November winds, I pulled my army-green sweatshirt up around my ears and gazed over the historic strip of sand. Children played tag with the undulating tide and couples strolled hand-in hand. In the distance, a few tourists clustered around “Les Braves,” a remarkable sculpture by artist Anilore Ban that sweeps its balletic stainless steel wings skyward in commemoration of the more than 4,000 Allied troops who lost their lives on that fateful day in 1944.

“It’s hard to believe that this was a site of such carnage,” I remarked.

Champion pointed to an unassuming cottage on the opposite side of the road, tucked between sand dunes crowned with dense vegetation. “That’s the only house on Omaha Beach that survived the Normandy invasion,” she explained.” Gradually, families rebuilt and these days Omaha Beach is a very popular vacation spot with the French.”

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Ghosts at the Bridge on the River Kwai

Like most people who have seen the 1957 film, any mention of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai conjures up images of leech-ridden swamps; a relentless, searing sun; and sweat-drenched prisoners marching back to camp in formation while whistling the Colonel Bogey March. With my knowledge admittedly stemming solely from the movie,…

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Toccoa, Georgia – Go For The Waterfall, But Stay For The History

My tour of waterfalls seemingly at an end, I spread the map out on my lap and contemplated the best route between Tallulah Falls and Atlanta, Georgia. As I scanned my options I noticed a red dot on the map, not far from my current location. I squinted to make out the small…

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USS Vandenberg To Be Scuttled Off Coast Of Key West To Create Artificial Reef

A little bit of history pulled into Key West last week. The 523-foot long USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg arrived from its previous berth in Norfolk, VA, where it had been languishing since being decommissioned in 1986, one of 25 retired ships often referred to as the “Ghost Fleet.” Now, rather than rusting…

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