Wow, there’s a lot, which hopefully I conveyed to you at dinner last night. I’ve become more of a person. Many things had a great impact. The presence of the vets is an invaluable asset to the experience. The pride I now feel for my country is amazing. The love of the Normans for the Americans, walking the beach, meeting fascinating people, understanding that a hero isn’t an actor, sports star etc. but all those who work for peace and all those who are buried in Colleville and other Allied cemeteries along with living veterans. I’ve heard about France’s duty to the memory, and the vets, etc., but I now have a duty to share what I know, and to continue the love for the veterans, so they never truly die and their spirit lives on. The world must never forget these atrocities and this program is an excellent way of ensuring the memory will live on. Thanks for this remarkable experience. When I become a doctor you can count on me for financial assistance. If you need any help for following years, just ask.
I learned a lot about WWII from beginning to end. I have come to love my Allies and former enemies. I know I will someday come back to visit. Most of all I learned what an American is and how much the people of Normandy love us. I plan to be a light on a hill to spread these truths abroad from generation to generation. Thanks.
I am used to the same people, lower to middle class kids, and never seeing really a better side of the world. So the most significant thing to me about this trip was me learning to love another culture other than ours.
Visits to Beaches and Cemeteries, to include American, British, and German. Also being able to get acquainted with some French people. The way dignitaries, mayors, etc. reacted. My being able to talk about some of my experience with the students—maybe other vets will do that in the future.
Having the chance to visit the significant sites and the chance to “feel” the emotion associated with each. Obviously the time at Colleville was foremost in the experience. Participating in the events at Saint Lo was also very powerful and the chance to accompany the veterans was a very moving experience. The first program was a smashing success. Your hard work and planning paid great dividends!
To quickly realize how significant the events and remembrance of D-Day is to the Norman people, and for the great appreciation they have for the vets and USA for making such a great sacrifice.
The overall experience has been extremely significant. I would have to say that being with three veterans, all of whom were so eager to share their stories with us, was a most unique experience and something I will never forget. Going to American cemeteries and then to the German was very powerful. Seeing the foxholes and the deep craters at Pointe-du-Hoc gave me a feeling of what the soldiers went through. Over all the trip was extremely successful and I am so thankful that I got to go, and I would like to return.
Being able to see the places in real life where all the events of D-Day and the Battle for Normandy occurred. Also, talking with the veterans and French civilians who were there. These things made it all come alive for me and it has been the experience of my life.
Definitely definitely definitely the most significant part for me on this trip was being able to talk with the veterans and hear their stories. I loved being able to see the gratitude in action by visiting these sites and incredible places.
Seeing the places where my grandfather landed and fought…witnessing the thank-you’s of the German man and French couple to the veterans (Omaha Beach, National Guard Monument)…having a chance to see how grateful the people of Normandy are to the vets…having a chance to experience French culture and practice the language (home stay)…in general, learning what a sacrifice the veterans made to save our country (and ultimately the world!) from Hitler’s Nazi reign. We are, today, free thanks to them! A very special thanks to the team for organizing this trip: Marsha, Allen, Sgt. Maj., Gene and Col. Combee.
I wanted to learn more about WWII and more about D-Day. The most significant thing for me was to see Utah and Omaha beach and to see the American cemetery at Colleville. I only hope that this program continues to expand so generations of people can find out that freedom is not free. I am really thankful to the veterans. Jack was one of the nicest persons I ever met and I will sincerely miss him.
The most significant part of this trip to me was getting to know the veterans and hearing their stories and seeing their reactions to the various battlefields that we went to. The trip has really meant a lot to me and having veterans there just intensified the experience.
I think the most significant experience was the cemeteries, Omaha Beach and above even that, having a veteran with us. Curly wasn’t just a cool guy, and reminded us that the people we kept hearing about weren’t just stories but reality. The stories from people, both American and French, who lived through D-Day gave us a rare insight into the event. Visiting Omaha Beach at low tide was awesome in the sense that we were faced with the same enormous stretch of sand that many men died trying to cross. Although I know it’s impossible, I wish I could have been dressed up like John was, half dunked in water and been forced to run that expanse of beach. The cemeteries brought the aspect of sacrifice from so many into a reality that we could see. Thank you for this opportunity.
Seeing and walking on Omaha Beach.
The sites I have read about, the people who were actually there, the people who are on your staff, the French families, and all the wonderful friends I have met on this trip. I thank all of you and I hope to keep in touch with you. This is a wonderful thing that you are doing. I shall never forget.
Learning about the individual stories from veterans/relatives that lived through was by far the most significant part of the trip. I’ve already blabbed about my reason for going, so I won’t write about it again. The cemetery was great, so was being in London.
Learning about D-Day and WW2 was terrific in general. I don’t know what to write that I didn’t already say at the dinners, but again I think that the most significant experience for me was Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc. Those 2 places really stood out in my mind. I learned so much on this trip that I don’t think it will really hit home until later. This trip is the greatest thing anyone could ever ask for. I have learned not only about WW2 but also about life. I made 10 new friends that I will never forget and I am just really glad for that. The students and adults on this trip were the greatest anyone could ask for. I will never forget this trip and the people I met. Whenever I see a flag flying in the breeze or sing the National Anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance, I will remember all the memorable experiences I had on this trip and the sacrifices that all the soldiers made for my freedom. I will always recommend this trip to anyone who will listen. Thank you for everything Marsha. You are a terrific person and I hope you continue this International Experience for years to come.
I said the exact same thing during my speech at the last dinner, but I’ll repeat myself: the most moving moment of my trip was when I dressed up as an American soldier. Imagining all of that weight on my back while charging up an enormous beach while being shot at and having seasickness was overbearing. If someone told me to swim with all that weight I would have sunk like a rock. I now understand why there are so many crosses at the Colleville cemetery.
Meeting and hearing the stories of people who had been there—then setting foot on the same sand that they had. Omaha Beach, Colleville cemetery and Pointe du Hoc were the most meaningful for me—it gave me perspective about what the men of WW2 sacrificed for my freedom and for the freedom of a land of people who were foreign to them. By walking in the steps they had tread 57 years ago I found out that the soldiers of WW2 truly did come from the greatest generation.
This trip exceeded any expectations I had prior. I learned a great deal and will now have the confidence to share my experiences with my students. I appreciated being a participant, sitting back and following along. It was a wonderful trip and could not have been organized any better. It was so complete and well-rounded. While I do want to promote it, a part of me wants to keep it to only my friends and family as a “best-kept secret”. Every site, speech, and meal were terrific. I was pretty homesick and thought it could have been shortened by a few days, but that was just me probably. Thank you and your entire network of friends for believing in this. I do hope we can stay in touch.
I’d say visiting Omaha Beach and realizing what they had to do.
As an adult traveler, I was given the opportunity to learn and experience this alongside generations before, with, and after my own. It illustrated the importance of sharing our personal as well as shared histories. It showed that youth should learn and never forget the lessons of our elders’ path. It showed that the elders should also respect the promise and the hope in our youth and never stop leading the way.
The entire trip seemed to be well planned. Each stop was interesting and for the most part we seemed to have enough time to explore fully each area we visited. I would like to have been able to visit Bayeux as well as the museum located not far from where the bus was parked. We opted for the town and did enjoy that, but perhaps the time spent in the town could have been shortened and the extra time then spent in the museum. The afternoon in Paris was interesting, but of course at this time of year the crowds and heat make seeing the city difficult. Gene was certainly essential in making the trip as fulfilling as it was. Donna, Gert and I certainly enjoyed all of the lunches with the French officials and veterans that we had.
The whole experience of really being where it all happened and being able to visualize the events that took place.
Taking part in something that allowed me to learn about history 1st hand; not through a textbook. Talking to witnesses as we saw the place they were referring to was by far the most wonderful and valuable asset of Normandy Allies. Also, the enthusiasm of the adults was obvious and clearly the trip would have failed had it been absent. Sincere thanks to all! Even if it sounds trite, I can safely say this has been a once in a lifetime experience. Here’s to many, many more successful Normandy Allies excursions.
Visiting places and listening to stories abut those places. Visiting Omaha, seeing no wonder it was so bloody. Pointe du Hoc was just plain cool. Getting time to know the people in our group. Having fun just learning more and more abut D-Day.
I believe the most significant part of this trip was visiting the beaches…it changes your whole perspective and that is what I enjoyed most. I would have liked to have more time on the beaches to reflect and explore more. I could probably spend a whole day there looking at the bluffs and all the trenches. I would have also liked to visit more of the Omaha Beach museums because I think that would just add more to the significance of the beaches. Overall this trip was great and I did enjoy it. It was worthwhile and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you, all the adults, for all your efforts. I will never forget this experience. Thank you.
I learned an incredible amount on this trip that I will take with me forever. But I think the most significant thing about the trip was the bond I made with the other kids. I feel like I’ve known them my whole life, and I am sure we will remain great friends for a long time.
Making the friends I did was great. The team’s knowledge was outstanding, but not overbearing. The stories of all the hosts were great. It was wonderful to be with the people in their town and their homes. Great job, Marsha. Oh—I’m a lad at heart so I really enjoyed watching and interacting with the boys.
Floating in the Channel on Omaha made this trip definitely worth it.
The personal aspects of the war, which I couldn’t have understood without having the chance to speak with the witnesses. Being able to experience the emotions of the French people is what made this time more than just a history lesson.
The most significant part of this adventure for me was learning so incredibly much about the path my great-uncle took almost 60 years ago. There is only so much a person can learn from books and internet sources, halfway across the world from France. Being able to see places first hand—to walk along beaches and roads he might have walked along himself and getting to hear first hand stories from witnesses who saw stuff he probably saw—was an amazing thing for me.
Everything as a whole gave me a better insight into my great-uncle’s life in France and his experiences. It also gave me better insight into the sniper who took out my uncle. I realized that he was human too—whoever he was and I don’t hate him at all. I just wonder now about his story too. Thanks so much for this opportunity to experience Normandie. God has blessed me so much with being able to come. Merci beaucoup.
I came on this trip having an interest, but not a specific or extreme one, in D-Day. I feel that I came with relatively little knowledge on the topic, but that I am happy to say that I am leaving with a lot. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn at the actual sites of D-Day, the history of the events that occurred. I can better fathom the incredible number of lives that were taken during the landings and in the following days, but stories of veterans retold by Pete, as well as visiting the three cemeteries is closer than I ever would have imagined I might understand. I also feel that I have learned a fair amount about the French culture. Although staying with our French families was at times challenging for me, I am thankful for having had that opportunity. I will always be glad to have met my host parents and I hope to stay in touch especially with some of their grandchildren. So, I have enjoyed and am thankful for having had the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture and history that was before, fairly unknown to me.
I got to really get an understanding of what Pete does for 10 days every July. It was a worthwhile adventure. Also gave me insight into the people of France because of the many opportunities to have interaction with them, although the language was something of a barrier!
The pictures I saw and words I read did not do the invasion justice—seeing all the sites did. By being with the veterans and going to the places, I gained a great understanding of D-Day. Staying with the families and meeting the French game me a good understanding of French culture and the Norman people.
The opportunity to stand on those beaches and the sites of some of the war’s bloodiest and hardest-fought battles provided a surreal experience. Today the country, from its people to the land itself, seems so peaceful, and those cemeteries evoke a sad sense of peace as well. Our veterans’ reactions and their stories testified to the terrible reality of the history. All those places where we stood were ravaged by battle, and every one of those crosses and stars of David represented one actual man who gave his life for our cause. I cannot accurately describe the effect this experience had on me, but it allowed closer access and a greater understanding and appreciation for a period in history than I have ever had. Everyone we met and each place we visited was touched by the events of 1944 and the second World War as a whole, and the longevity of the Norman memory and their devotion to honoring those who sacrificed for us moved me greatly. This experience will stay with me forever, and has inspired me with a passion for attempting not only to study history, but to experience and endeavor to genuinely understand it.
There are two main things that I will carry with me from this experience and that is the variation of beach assault and the French likeness to us. Before this trip I knew that Omaha was the hardest landscape and Utah was lightly defended but you cannot gain a true appreciation for the beaches without actually visiting them. As with the French family, it was interesting to find out that it is not Americans but the policies of the US that they dislike. As everyone knows, there are two things you don’t talk about to be polite and that is religion and politics. I was glad that I was able to share my knowledge with my host family.
I learned so much on this trip, WWII related or not. I became friends with a handful of French teenagers just my age, and they are exactly the same as us. A few changes here and there, but all of us related on the same level. I also learned that an American stereotype of a French person is totally bogus. I didn’t expect it to be true and it is a shame that more people in the States don’t know the kindness, hospitality, gratefulness, and respect that the French have for Americans, especially the Normans. I now have a different outlook on people in general. Especially after speaking with the veterans. I realized you don’t ever know what you might hear. Because of this trip I’ve been able to put a name to a face in regards to WWII. I’ve seen so many parts of the war first hand that I can’t help but be greatly affected. I can’t forget to write about the friends I’ve made on this trip. Some are my age, some are my parents’ age, some could be my grandparents. I just didn’t expect this at all. I feel that I’ve even become friends with the team members. I was treated like an equal the entire trip, and was given responsibility of myself. I was able to bond with these people because they were teaching, not babysitting.
The experience of staying with a French family and being presented a picture of the war and present day relations from their point of view. The time spent with the French definitely taught me the most on this trip, and I think future Normandy Allies trips should put a heavy focus on this.
The entire trip was outstanding. Everything was very well planned and the organization was flawless. The team members were wonderful to be with and all their hard work is very much appreciated. Thank you. The host families were amazing and it allowed me to understand the culture a little better. I loved the freedom to tour the towns and eat in small cafes. All the meals were great and I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. There was not a single thing about the trip that I would change. I hope that the team will continue and I also hope to be part of it again in the future. I cannot say enough about how wonderful this trip was for me. The townspeople, the mayors, and the extraordinary things I learned and saw and participated in! Thank you—Oh! Thanks to Pete for that wonderfully tasting oyster!
I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for this trip, but I’ve loved every day I have been on it. And although the history was the main part and I was truly blown away by some of the sites and stories and events, the most significant part of the International Experience 2004 had nothing to do with WWII. Gene Johnston said a few nights ago that he wanted to “dispel some myths” about France and the French people. I was so impressed and awed by how nice and helpful every person I met or spoke to was, my mission in returning to the States (besides fostering interest in the program) will certainly be to continue to aid in dispelling those myths. I have made friends from Grandcamp, specifically my host family whom I loved, and friends from Virginia & New Jersey that I know I will keep in touch with forever. I thank Normandy Allies for opening my eyes in more ways than one.
Being able to learn about what my grandfather and other WWII soldiers experienced in the liberation of Normandy. I enjoyed every aspect of the trip and would gladly join again if I could.
The Blair kids, Henne’s stories, the Team, seeing other places than Omaha and Saint Lo for first time, reveling in the success of my idea!, staying in Bayeux & Grandcamp. Overall: the education we received.
Following my Dad’s footsteps; meeting the 4 vets and seeing the learning happen for the 8 students; seeing where it all happened 60 years ago; meeting the local people—more than “just a tour”—living history, real people
What really impacted me was the trip to Carentan—there was no way I could have done this by myself or with another group
The opportunity to live the history. Pete gave great factual information at key locations that really will help me in my unit development for my course. I got everything I expected to get out of this and more. Veterans were also helpful in clarifying certain aspects of Normandy for me, too.
Coming with my grandfather and going to the cemetery to see his friend; the very pleasant staff who were helpful, informative, and patient. Thank you.
Actually going to the beaches and going to the other areas where troops were. The monuments were good but truly seeing where the troops were visualized everything so much more for me. Now I can know what the veterans went through and how much the people truly care about the Allied forces.
It was amazing and one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ve always wanted to see Normandy, let alone France. This was the most amazing and I’m entirely grateful for this amazing experience.
Returning to where I once lived brought back great memories of when I was younger. Experiencing it with other people was wonderful. The witnesses and their stories, such as Walter’s, was probably the most emotional and was what touched me the most.
The history and lessons we learned from our experiences at the sites. Also the location of our hostess house was extremely historical and provided us with more knowledge after the tours, plus having French kids to communicate with and learn from.
For me, it was great to first-hand experience everything that I have learned in history textbooks. It really brought everything into perspective. Everything is so much more real when you see it with your own eyes.
To me, the visit to the British cemetery was the most significant, in the fact that each grave was decidedly personal and different than all the others, giving a tangible story to each fallen soldier. Instead of having everyone remain as only a name, the British have succeeded in greatly humanizing and honoring the dead, not leaving them simply faceless names as both the Americans and Germans have done.
Learning how much respect the French people have for Americans and how long the rebuilding of some small French cities took.
For me, the vast knowledge of the team and their ability to relate it so thoroughly and completely. Pete and Walter were wonderful.
It seems like a well thought-out program. Definitely of appropriate length
This truly was the trip of a lifetime for me. I have always wanted to travel to Normandy—something about it has always interested me. What has been most significant to me is the deeper appreciation I have for what people in the Armed Forces do for our country. Seeing the beaches, listening to the stories of Walter’s family, I can truly appreciate what was done and the sacrifices that were made. Until this trip, I had nothing personal to connect to World War II, now I have places I have seen and the people I have met. I also found the gratitude expressed by the Norman people to be overwhelming. I think we as Americans take freedom and liberty too much for granted. These people, 60 years later still thank us for what we did—I think not enough Americans realize that. I will try to teach my students that when I return to school in the fall.
Naturally, standing on the same grounds where soldiers of many nations fought and died was an amazing experience. Doing this ¬with soldiers who stood there 62 years ago was even more moving. However, to me, the most significant point of the Normandy Allies experience was our ability to speak in between visits to veterans, citizens, and family members, to hear the little “insignificant” stories that cannot be read in a book. Speaking with my host father, Louis Ledevin, and hearing his reaction to the liberation was really the point of this trip to me. The first hand accounts that will not be as available in the future—and that can only be experienced as first hand accounts truly made this trip spectacular. I hope that future years will be a fortunate as I to meet so many different people, from so many different backgrounds to explain their experiences. Many angles were covered and for that I am grateful.
From the trip, I will always remember all the people. I will remember the veterans who all told their stories so wonderfully. I will always remember the other adults who although they might not have been fighting in France, all kept up the homefronts. I will remember the team members who all cracked me up at one time or another. I loved the entire group and cannot imagine not knowing any of these people.
Very well organized—Very interesting places to visit with great significant historical value—the team members were very knowledgeable about their way of presenting information during the tour.
We would recommend to other people to participate in future tours (including student participants)
The most significant to me was the fact that the French people treat the veterans as movie stars. It was great to see them get all the attention.
Seeing the enormity of the invasion first off. It must have been awesome to a German soldier to see all the ships on the Channel. Finding out how difficult it was to proceed inland. The bocage and the inundated areas were great obstacles, I never fully appreciated that. To me, the landing was the whole thing, but in fact it was not. Meeting American veterans, and having a chance to talk to them, along with the townspeople, French resistance, and French veterans. We also met many people on our own at the exhibits in the villages, etc., who we made friends with and talked with. This has been a great, great trip. Thank you!
Meeting people who had lived through the war—both US veterans and French local people. Very well organized trip, thank you!
A very good trip overall. I would recommend it to all World War II enthusiasts and all World War II vets that have not returned.
The emotional experience of learning about D-Day from those who lived it and knowing the social and emotional impact of war, also through the veterans’ stories.
I believe that our group’s dynamic and interaction was the most significant. Each of us helping the other to better understand things that we had not before, each person giving the gift of understanding and comprehension so that each individual is able to improve and in turn, allow the entire group to share. Thank you for a truly deep and unique experience and for allowing me to participate with such a profound and impressive group of people. I will never forget.
I really enjoyed getting to know France and her history with people, like Pete and the vets, who know so much. It has been a wonderful experience for me.
Hearing the vets and everyone’s reaction to them. Everywhere we went people wanted to hear their stories and get their pictures. It was great to see how grateful everyone is for their sacrifice, and that everyone really does remember their presence. And Maggie really made the trip for me.
The team is to be commended for a thorough orientation to each of the events preceding the day’s activities. I will highly recommend the Normandy Allies International Experience to friends. I’ve not been on many trips and the Normandy trip is the “best of all.” I will treasure for many years the excitement, the fellowship and the new friends who came into my life on these days. Thank you, and God bless you forever.
How does one address all of the significant experiences and do justice to them? I will give you my top ones: the Normandy Allies team and the participants on this trip are kindred spirits who we will never forget; the knowledge I gained and my intention to share it when I get home. Mother and I will never be able to thank you enough for the knowledge you shared, the doors you opened, and the friends we have in France who truly never forget. From the moment Mom and I met Pete and Logan on July 9th; we knew we were in good hands. It’s difficult to put in words the admiration and respect we have for Marsha, Walter, Charlie, Pete and Logan.
We experienced our time with you as a finely honed whole in which every activity was a useful and significant part of the total. There isn’t anything we did that we would want to omit next time. We had enough time at each location and, if we completed our looking before time was up, there were people to talk with or scenery to enjoy. Each museum contributed a different piece of the story that is Normandy. We hope students appreciated the importance of visiting the monuments. We gained a new understanding of how important those monuments are to the people who were involved. Every little town has a town square monument and we will make it a point to read all the names on monuments as we travel.The curriculum, maps, and lectures by Pete were invaluable—as was his passion for telling the story. The availability of every team member to answer questions, over and over again, made a difference. Walter made the experience personal from a son’s view and complemented the experiences of the veterans. You couldn’t have planned on having Maggie there, but her perspective and experience was still another strength of the trip.
Accommodations were satisfactory and appropriate for the journey we were taking.The most significant thing about the experience was the presence of the veterans. Their spontaneous stories were awesome and the crowds they attracted put us in touch with many people and their thankfulness. Thank you for this wonderful, once in a lifetime experience.
The trip was well organized and an excellent educational tour/experience. It exceeded, by far, my expectations. I truly hope you expand the areas you cover. (I would enjoy traveling with you every year.)
The trip was well planned and executed. I would recommend it highly. Marsha’s briefing on the itinerary was outstanding. The Colonel’s (Pete Combee) briefings were superior. He knows the subject well. The Sergeant Major (Charlie Frick) and Walter were very kind to me in all aspects. I thoroughly appreciated their kindness. In all, I am thoroughly happy that I came on the trip, even though I may have been a “pain in the butt” throughout the trip. Thanks to all of you and “May the wind be always at your back. The students that you selected were outstanding; I would welcome any of them to my home anytime.
Staying with the French helps us as students better understand the culture and the language (if we choose to learn it). Begin able to hear the story of their experience of witnessing the landings and the liberation of their towns, cities, and countries provided me with a better understanding of the French people and a desire to come back and learn more.
I thought the most significant experience was when everyone just sat back and listened to the veterans talk, because they definitely have a lot to say and this trip seems like a perfect forum for them.
Several notes of significance: Pete Combee’s presentations, to me, are a highlight—the team complements each other well; the comments and interactions of our four veterans and Maggie; the camaraderie of the staff, students, veterans, and adults made the trip –special; and of course, the Normans in the villages who welcomed us with open arms and open hearts.
It was fun staying with the French families, and living with them was one of the most interesting and fun experiences of the trip, to get a taste of authentic French customs and etiquette.
All events were excellent; Saint Lo was especially fine as the Normans had an excellent series of events. My first time back with Normandy Allies, and the fourth in my lifetime. Always interesting and rewarding, but as we veterans get older it becomes a physical exercise as well. I did okay, but would not be sure about next year.
#1—meeting real people and interacting with them as a result of the Normandy Allies’ relationships. #2—the ceremonies that recognize the WWII veterans. #3—the details of the histories from the staff adds a lot to understanding the significance of the area. It’s well balanced. #4—ability to have time/local resources to help explore my father’s D-Day landing history. #5—that American students have an opportunity to experience meals, conversation, and life in a French home. I hope some of them stay in touch with their French host families.
Enjoyed the trip very much, enjoyed meeting the local people even though I only know “bonjour” and “merci”. Also enjoyed seeing in person the beach and draw and church where Donna’s Dad landed and traveled in June/July 1944. Only disappointment is that Bayeux and Grandcamp don’t carry Budweiser.
The most significant aspect of the trip was being able to listen to the veterans recall distant memories of how they landed and dealt with the situations. Also hearing about Margaret’s struggle with the loss of her husband on D-Day.
I want to thank you and the team for a well planned and executed tour. I know time has to be considered, but you did hit the most important sights and gatherings. I know the students received a great deal of knowledge, and I hope they will instill this in their future lives.
Massive amount of new information and knowledge of what happened around me in 1944. This has been a total explanation of the war!
Personal experiences with French residents. Beyond my wildest dreams. A very enjoyable experience.
Hard to answer what was most significant. Thought it was well organized—certainly got very adequate info in the weeks before. The sights spoke for themselves. Liked the family atmosphere of the leaders, students and adults. Was especially impressed with the preparation, presentations and follow-up discussions by, and with, Pete and Walter in particular. Marsha did a great job with the introductions and previews to the events and places we would be experiencing. Like the style of giving us a run-down before all the events for the day and reminders as we went on for the day. The direction of the trip seemed to be just right and the accommodation was most adequate. I felt the days were full but reasonable amount of free time as well. Overall, it (“the experience”) will be a pleasantly memorable one for me and prompted me to learn more about D-Day before I came and has definitely inspired me to get out the books and videos I already have and to get to the library and internet for more study and materials.
In reading books about D-Day, the authors talk about the cliffs on Omaha Beach, the marsh land, German bunkers, etc. It is hard to visualize just what these things look like. Now I can read again their stories and I will know very clearly what they are talking about. Pete’s history lessons were fantastic and it added so much to each place we visited. A truly outstanding and educational trip with a good group of people. Thanks Marsha for everything!
Experiencing the culture, sightseeing, the stories, the food, I enjoyed this trip very much and the whole thing was a learning experience.
A clearer understanding of the French WWII experience through: 1) Historical record, maps and discussion—bus as classroom 2) Seeing the places 3) Witnessing the French citizens description of WWII, especially D-Day experiences 4) Interaction with other Normandy Allies travelers, staff, adults, and students
Don Robertson’s experiences during WWII will remain with me forever. His willingness to share and open up with the group added “spice” to the trip. Most importantly though, he provided Mom with the final piece to her puzzle, and I believe she is finally at peace with the circumstances surrounding his (her first husband’s) final interment!
The International Experience was most significant to me because of the many knowledgeable people on the trip that I could learn from and all of the places we visited. The personal experiences that we heard and the French people we had the ability to meet made the biggest difference to me on the trip. Listening to people that were actually present on D-Day in France definitely gave me the best understanding of what occurred. All of the other details were easily filled in by the helpful guides in the museums and by Pete’s explanations especially.
Visiting the D-3 Draw by myself to see where my grandfather landed was very cool.
Veteran and French who through the war’s accounts. Host families willingness to put up with us.
The most significant to me would have to be the beaches. After learning and reading about them, it was very special to actually see them.
Having a veteran with us, I will not forget him and therefore this trip and therefore the war and its tremendous effect.
The most significant event that happened during the trip for me was being able to learn and understand about the WWII events and the significance behind them, while also experiencing the French culture via their food, habits, living conditions and general differences from the US. All of these events wrapped together made this trip a real learning experience form a historical and cultural standpoint.
The history of each place we went. While they were significant to WWII, they were also important before the war.
The connections I have made and the memories created on this trip are ones that will last a lifetime. The veterans may not realize how much it meant to me that they came out to dinner with the students and told stories continuously for over two hours. They were the thing that I will never forget. We talked about the war of course but also their lives before and after the war. I sat with Bob Henne and he had hilarious stories but also sad stories of loss and death. This experience has helped me appreciate the history I have learned.
The ability to experience Omaha and Colleville cemetery was by far my most meaningful experience. I enjoyed listening to Pete and the vets, and I also enjoyed the opportunity to be alone to walk the beach and cemetery. Listening to Vincent recount his experience set the tone, and the day finished well with the students retiring the colors. The significance of this trip is that I now have a 10-fold increase in understanding D-Day, the Normandy Campaign, and the experiences of the people who lived through these harrowing times. Thank you so much to Pete and the rest of the team. You have given me something I will remember forever, and something I will pass on to my students.
Thanks for all your efforts before, during and after this amazing trip. I learned much of the landings and Father’s personal experiences. I experienced French history, culture, and people. I’m thankful for the students included and enjoyed them and the entire group. Thanks for making it all possible and wonderful.
In closing I would say that my understanding has deepened regarding the war. I was able to see through others’ eyes the fear, losses, honor, gratitude, and oneness that has resulted from the sacrifices of so many. Peace is not free. It is gained and protected by strong values and tremendous sacrifices.
Today the history of WWII was really brought to life. I usually read these stories in books, but to be able to hear first hand accounts from the veterans and Jacques Vico, and to see where actual battles took place was truly amazing. I could better understand the sacrifices that these men made and begin to really picture what happened.
I will always remember how much the French, even still, appreciate the sacrifice of the men who liberated their nation.
I am extremely proud of my country.
I now realize the importance of the La Fière Bridge and bridges like that. I learned that some of the largest military objectives azzzzre some of the smallest locations.
Realization that the tens of millions of lives lost affected hundreds of millions in a very real way.
At the museum at Arromanches, our guide gave a speech about the French appreciation of the American landings and then handed each of the veterans a medallion of Arromanches. It was amazing to see that 65 years later they are still so grateful.
Staying with a host family and meeting the people of Normandy was the best part of the trip.
For me the most meaningful part of the International Experience was hearing the gratitude expressed by all the Norman people we encountered. It soon became clear to me exactly how much respect the people of Normandy have for the sacrifices made by the American people to liberate them. I don’t believe that the American people fully understand that gratitude. In truth, I do not believe that many Americans understand as well as the Normans the sacrifices made by their own fathers and grandfathers. That is something I hope to play a part in changing.
Everything was good to excellent especially:
- The briefings by Pete and his passion for the subject!
- The juxtaposition of Omaha Beach and the American cemetery
- The individual stories, Jacques Vico, Jean Mignon, Captain Carter, the women at Trevières
- Ceremonies very moving!
- The team—excellent! Charlie, Pete, Walter, Marsha
Thank you!! My trip is an unforgettable experience!! Cicero: “Not to know what happened before you were born is to live your life as a child.”
To understand more of what the war was like and what everyone went through to get freedom, especially the French, since they had just gotten over WWI.
Total evaluation—Excellent, I would recommend to my friends. a) I enjoyed Bayeux very much. b) Our staff & leadership were very helpful. c) I was much impressed with the younger participants. d) One talk about WWI in the Normandy area might be a good idea. e) Warning about the quality of the beef—grizzly. f) All French participants were just great. g) Very impressed with all Pete’s presentations. Great job. Parts of the trip seem to run together in my memory. I should have kept a journal.
I am very appreciative of the uniqueness of this tour. Meeting French residents personalized the story. Actual locations re-enforced the size and reality of the war. I am grateful for the wonderful companions and teachers. On this trip I came to realize how enormous was the horror of WWII. And, it “hit me” that the most evil event of the twentieth century was birthed, not by a communist totalitarian government, nor by a 3rd world despot, but by a democracy. Democracies are vulnerable and require great individual responsibility. It is a sobering realization. Thank you Normandy Allies for the trip of a lifetime. Thank you Marsha.
The most significant was the meeting of the people of Normandy and Michael and the personal insight and friendship they projected. Walter’s presentation was very moving. The other thing that I take away is that the Normans fear that the generations of Americans will forget what happened on 6-6-44 and beyond. I loved the Norman villages and architecture. Thank you to the staff for an excellent tour. What about a student from Monroe County?
The total trip was beyond my expectations. The places we visited were all enjoyable, and I would be hard pressed to suggest that any of them should be omitted. Like most trips, some sites were more interesting than others, but even those I would consider less interesting were enjoyable. While I did enjoy Bayeux, I thought the quaintness of Grandcamp was more enjoyable. An additional day in Grandcamp would give the students more time with the host families. You might want to poll them to see if they would have preferred an additional day. As a team you, Charles, Pete and Walter did an excellent job…My best regards to the team, as you plan for future trips.
We heard the story of French residents but our host family was present during the liberation and I would have loved to hear their story. They had a friend, John, who was in the Air Force in the U.S. and had very interesting stories.
This trip showed me just how great of a sacrifice young men made in order to ensure that future generations could enjoy peace. Such a lesson has given me a greater appreciation for war veterans and for the comfortable and free world I live in.
I was really struck by just how grateful the Norman people are, over 66 years after the fact. I was so humbled by their gratitude, and I was really impressed by how hard they work to keep the memory alive.
I hope in the future Normandy Allies can take bus loads of students and adults on these educational trips. Omaha Beach, American cemetery, Mulberry Museum, Pointe du Hoc, L’Abbaye d’Ardenne…
It was incredibly moving (to tears in many cases) to represent my father, Stanley Bernstein, a veteran of the 29th Division who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, at many memorial services. Many government representatives were gracious and emphasized that the people of Normandy will never forget their liberation by Americans. Also many briefings and map orientations by Pete and Walter were incredibly informative especially to me who knew very little about WWII. The Normandy Allies team contacts with so many people made me feel that we were seeing aspects of France that few tourists ever see—Chateau de Colombières, personalized tours of museums with souvenirs, a walk through the bocages, meetings with home stay families. Also enjoyed the disparate age range of group—each participant with their own perspective to contribute. Bonnie Carter was especially helpful with her occasional French lessons in my recall of high school French. A wonderful experience—unforgettable.
Overall, this was a wonderful experience, and I had so much fun! I loved connecting with everyone on the trip, and I feel like I learned so much! Sometimes it was hard to soak in everything because we visited so many places, but I understand we have lots to see with limited time! Thank you so much for everything, I will never forget.
The most significant aspect of this trip for me was the people. Both in and out of the tour group, I learned so much about different cultures and customs. This was a truly special group and this experience will bond us together. Also by talking with the French guides we met, I gained a greater understanding about life overseas, which will really help when the decision to study abroad comes along! Thank you so much for everything! I will never forget!
As Charlie would say, I will “Never Forget”. I think it’s so important to remember the sacrifices made for the world’s freedom. There was so much I didn’t know before coming to Normandy, and without visiting the history is just facts and figures and the true scope and impact of the war are impossible to determine. To hear first-hand stories from the French and Karl and others was remarkable, and one of this meaningful and important history can truly be read in a book. There is just something about going, seeing, and hearing Normandy that is unique and moving and the experience ensures that I will never forget.
I had no idea that history and the immediate ramifications of growing up in a world free of Nazi tyranny could come alive in the way it did. Far, far exceeded my expectations. We were off the beaten path so many times. Pete, Charlie, Walter added so much more. Marsha’s organization was phenomenal. Words cannot begin to express how incredible it was for me to see my father honored and respected not only by the Norman French but by Normandy Allies and all the new friends and relationships we made. I will never forget. I promise. All the best,
I had never been out of the country and I feel like this was a very good experience. It was very organized and lots of fun.
1. Physically seeing what I have heard about for years. 2. Meeting people who bear witness to events Comments: Great job. I will recommend to others. Seems this tour gives you more behind the scenes stuff. Dinner at homes and with politicians. Great experience.
Being able to climb the bluff at Omaha Beach and walk along a significant length of it—probably in the same location where my uncle (Pvt James Rone, KIA D-Day) was wounded by a land mine.
Actually being on the beaches. Trip is wonderfully planned. Every day was filled with meaningful experiences.
Omaha Beach walk. Luncheon with Trevières Town Council. Drop zone visit.
Walking along Omaha Beach was the most meaningful experience to me. It was easy to comprehend why they came in at low tide and how vulnerable they were. It helped me see that it was pure suicide for the first divisions. I could not have done what they did. But as the movie said at the American Cemetery, those who died gave the greatest gift they could—freedom, so they fought. This has been very humbling. Seeing Karl honored will always stay with me. All I can say is thank you for this experience. I cannot wait to teach my students to remember.
This experience helped me prepare for the “real world”. I came into it not knowing anyone, but left with great, close friends. I learned a lot more about the war while still having fun. It was also really great to see how much the French appreciated what the Americans did for them.
Meeting Karl made everything so much more meaningful, and the fact that we had such a good group allowed me to really focus on taking everything in. The most meaningful day was Omaha Beach and Colleville, but Pointe du Hoc and Longues s/Mer were also amazing. Just getting to know people like Jean Mignon who have lived in Normandy was really special for me. There’s not really much I’d change—we were really busy and it was tiring, but I wouldn’t want to take anything out.
I was really happy to broaden my horizons and visit a new country for me. A change of scenery is always a good thing as culture in your homeland can become very boring. It took a little while to get used to how things were done in France, but after the transition was done the whole experience was very eye opening for me.
Most meaningful was Karl’s presence and experience, no question. The veteran’s speeches at Colleville cemetery were incredibly moving, as was retiring the colors with Karl. M. Vico’s story was very remarkable. First-hand accounts were by far the most meaningful. I also enjoyed Pete’s detailed descriptions of the military actions, and Mark’s knowledge at Pegasus Bridge. Also loved my host family—the Langlois’s—a great time even though they speak roughly as much English as I speak French! This is to say, not very much. However, this was an amazing experience. Our very formidable guides were the capstone of the trip –we thank you all, thank you so very much!
Logistics can win or lose battles. I think that the team should be complemented for the logistical support from the beginning to the end of the trip. From the participants level it was a complicated venture flawlessly executed. I know and appreciate all too well that you cannot address the expectations of all participants. But, you must be pleased to know that I never heard one voice of displeasure with our experience together. The bottom line is that I would recommend this program to the experienced as well as novice World War II history buff. It was a great journey that I would enthusiastically take again.