We replaced the bicycles with a motor scooter. We buzzed (like a hive of bees) to Sainte-Mère-Église, travelling only about twice as fast as we did peddling. The highest speed was around 30 mph (50 km). Dennis commented that the motorbike was giving it its all to climb the hills, but so was I the day before.
The weather was perfect with clear skies and temps in the mid 70s, though it was a bit windy. The locales were all dressed in summer outfits and getting sun-burned.
In town, about 20, 000 people (perhaps more) filled the streets. All ages and nationalities. There was a sense of expectancy and excitement. Around the square there were perhaps twenty each beer and sausage pavilions, as well as ice cream and crepes vendors, souvenirs stands, and recruiters for the French military.
From the band stand the politicians droned on and the men’s choir sang an occasional song, either nationalistic or from the 40s. The acoustics were terrible. We stood in line for about an hour to buy a sausage sandwich for Dennis, and then sat in the shade for him to eat it. Sitting near us was a family from Normandy dressed in military garb. The little girl was darling. Many people photographed that family, and the boy was very willing to pose.
At 5 PM there was a fly-over with the C47s and the parade started. There were 1200 Americans marching in the band, mostly ROTC and high school bands, some carrying photos of relatives. Several returning vets paraded in military vehicles or were pushed in wheel chairs. You can see how happy he was. This morning the paper reported that a British veteran was found and returned to his nursing home; he was bound for Normandy and the celebrations–many were here in spirit if not in body.
Later that evening there were more celebrations and fireworks, but we left after the parade.