The year 2004 was the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy by the Allies during World War II. This did not, for some reason, penetrate into the planning for our trip. We had a long bus ride, caused by the heavy traffic associated with the D-Day celebrations, and the narrow country roads. We arrived too late for the scheduled performance. However, an efficient official arranged for the group to sing in conjunction with a band from the Valley Forge Military Academy.
There were large numbers of people in attendance, including a delegation of veterans from Great Britain, men who had participated in the invasion in 1944:
Probably the most memorable piece that was planned for the occasion was “In Remembrance” music by Eleanor Daley. I do not have a recording of APM doing this, but a comparable performance is here. We had a fair amount of time after this, and some went down to the beach to retrieve sand to bring home; most looked at the graves, but my wife and I had a special mission, to visit the grave of my father, killed 8 days after the invasion began. We found the grave decorated with flowers! This surprise, we discovered, had been arranged by my mother, to whom we had sent our itinerary.
We went on to Caen to visit the World War II Memorial Museum. The exhibits here dealt in depth with both the history and the material artifacts of the war. This museum is off the beaten track, but worth the trip.
We stayed that night at the Hotel Mercure at St Martin-aux-Chartrains, not far from Deauville and Trouville on the Normandy coast, towns frequented by Parisian society since the 1890s. Most of our group stayed on the hotel grounds, enjoying the landscape and facilities before dinner.
A couple of us, however, took a short walk to a nearby chateau to buy some Calvados:
On the way back I took a picture of the Manoir Menil, now a B&B. Later, in the winter, at a gathering in the city of Albany, some members of the tour enjoyed the Calvados together, in remembrance.
Our next stop was Rouen.