In Normandy, eternal gratitude

“When you are 4 or 5 years old, and your parents and your grandparents tell you about this, it sticks with you,” said Benoit Noel, 42, who helps administer a museum commemorating what happened on Utah Beach. “Everybody in Normandy remembers the landing. We know what the Americans did for us. We haven’t forgotten.”

Here in Cricqueville, for instance, people gather at their little stone church once a year to celebrate Mass in honor of the young U.S. troops who died on nearby beaches or in the surrounding fields. Inside, the U.S. and French flags hang side by side over the tabernacle.

“Christian, do not forget the American soldiers who risked and sacrificed their lives for you along this coast on June 6, 1944,” reads a marble plaque fixed to the wall of the nave. “The bell of this church guided them. You owe them to pray faithfully that God welcomes them.”